Latest Posts

The OS Movie Lab

We’ve wanted to tease out movie rankings for a while. Movies are maybe the most passionately invested category of Open Syllabus citation data, surrounded by scholarly and popular debates and a teaching field that cuts across many fields. That makes them a rich target for a Lab.

GO TO THE MOVIE LAB

The OS Movie Lab (like the earlier Link Lab for journalism) is a navigable ranking of movies taught in college classes–in this case the 1201 movies assigned at least 20 times in the OS corpus since 2015. It sits outside the core OS toolset because we don’t have a reliable ‘Movie ID’ in our citation catalogs that would make them a searchable subcategory. Instead, these rankings are built from a hand-curated list derived from the larger OS dataset.

The rankings provide a snapshot of the thinking of hundreds of thousands of faculty about what movies to teach, drawn from millions of syllabi. Many of these decisions clearly belong to a Film Studies-centered discussion about how to teach the history of cinema. But the data comes from all fields and includes choices that reflect a wide array of teaching rationales.

Overall, the rankings present a very classical view of film canons and film studies — still oriented around the post-war American auteurs and the various European waves. Some of this reflects the national biases of the OS collection: around 55% of syllabi are from the US, 15% from the UK and another 10% split between Canada and Australia. The

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Sociology

We’ve been featuring the new Open Syllabus posters, which are available at the OS Print Store. Mapping the top 600 or so titles in sociology produced an interesting spatialization of subfields: a tangle of theoretical perspectives in the north, shading into French theory in the east; sexuality in yellow in the southeast; criminology and deviance in red; and a number of race and class-focused subject areas to the west. You can zoom in and explore yourself in this semi-hi-res version. It’s also interesting to compare against the much larger Co-Assignment Galaxy, which maps all fields together.

These are very large (36″x48″) posters available for $54.99

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Classics

Following up with another highish-res poster image, here’s Classics (available here as a very large 36″x48″ format print)

Very roughly, it divides into Greek literature in the south (in green) and art and religion in the north (in blue). Rome is in red and purple, with art and architecture on the right and family and gender relations on the left.

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The Galaxy of Philosophy

Last month we launched a print store with 11 ‘field posters’ designed by the great Nadieh Bremer. These are very large 36″x48″ high-res posters that map the top 600 or so titles in different fields. The size of a dot indicates how often a title is assigned. Titles cluster and are colored based on how often they are assigned together.

In addition to being gorgeous, our bet is that they are also instructive for students looking to develop an overall grasp of complex fields. Posters cost $54.99 and sales support the work of Open Syllabus.

We’ll feature these over the next month or two. Here’s Philosophy. You can click and zoom — though the resolution is a bit low.

One interesting thing about this layout, from my perspective, is that it doesn’t strongly reproduce my mental map of the field — which was formed through a political theory education that privileged a division between anglo/analytic and continental traditions. You can find those divisions, but the field overall includes a lot of ‘cross canonical’ works that are taught across multiple themes and traditions. It’s also interesting to compare to the place of philosophy in the larger ‘co-assignment galaxy,’ which maps a much wider array of titles across syllabi from all fields.

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Business School ‘Teaching Power’

Each year, the Financial Times ranks international MBA programs. This year the top 10 are Harvard, Stanford, INSEAD (France/Singapore), U Penn – Wharton, London Business School, CEIBS (China), U Chicago – Booth, MIT – Sloan, Columbia, IESE (Spain), Yale, and Northwestern – Kellogg.

School ranking methods are often controversial: schools, educational goals, and concepts of quality vary considerably and the data and inputs into the models are often subjective. (Here’s Malcolm Gladwell on an older version of the US News & World Report ranking methodology). The FT mitigates these problems by focusing on a set of more narrowly comparable institutions (top tier MBA programs), on relatively unambiguous inputs (it heavily weights student outcomes measured in salary and program value in cost), and by limiting scoring to a top 10 (instead of elevating the minor differences that separate schools in the long tail). FT includes a “research rank” derived from the number of articles that faculty published in top journals, but salary factors outweigh research factors by 4-1. And it lightly weights a host of other variables — gender ratios, international diversity, faculty PhDs, and so on — that contribute to the quality of a business education.

In collaboration with the FT, we’ve been exploring whether Open Syllabus data can capture a different dimension of school quality: the degree to which a business school’s faculty influence the teaching of business in general, throughout the field. Our method is simple: we took the 500 most frequently assigned texts from the

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