Category Archives: Featured Materials

What is populism?

Populism is, well, a popular term right now! It is being applied in news reports and analysis to political parties and leaders around the world, including Senator Bernie Sanders and President Donald Trump.

According to multiple reference sources, the term was coined as a pejorative by a journalist covering the American movement to organize farmers against banks, railroads, and government land policy in the late nineteenth century. That movement became a political party, proudly adopting it as their name.

Populism has taken on several meanings since, and often appears with qualifiers: “agrarian populism,” “economic populism,” “political populism.” Recently the phrase “medical populism” has begun to appear, describing public resistance to medical expertise during the COVID pandemic.

With such widespread application, how can populism be defined? Following the research process is helpful.

Our Credo Reference database includes encyclopedias and dictionaries ranging from brief definitions to deeper dives into the context of particular populist movements. References in these articles can be used to construct a Literature Review. After scanning the literature, including history, economics, law, sociology, and news sources, a Working Definition can be constructed, like this one drawn from the Encyclopedia of Global Studies:

 “The core aspects of these … types of populism are the centrality of the people and the antagonism between the people and the elites. This general definition does not include references to social bases, issues, and electorates because these characteristics differ too much over time and regionally … Populists tend to define “the people” as an undifferentiated community constructed in opposition to an enemy within or outside the nation or the state …  The most common approach is to define populism as an ideology but as an ideology that is not a well-elaborated and grand one like socialism, liberalism, or conservatism.”

Populism is often opposed to liberalism and neo-liberalism. But populist parties and factions exist on both ends of the political spectrum, the Left and the Right. Populist movements have been organized by people of color against European minority rule; as well by Europeans in opposition to immigration, globalization, and modernization. They are occurring in democracies and also supporting dictatorships.

Populist movements have led to reforms. In the United States, our direct election of Senators is a legacy of the short-lived Populist Party. It is not uncommon that a populist leader who became an autocrat, began public life as a hero. Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe is an example.

However, because populism is predicated on antagonism, such movements easily become violent. Populist elected leaders often urge their supporters to demonstrate. They have used military, police, and other government powers to suppress their opposition. Contemporary populist autocrats have attacked press freedoms by revoking broadcast licenses, detaining and murdering journalists (Russia); attacked academic independence by dismissing professors and closing programs (Turkey); attacked judicial independence by impeaching judges (Philippines); unilaterally changed monetary policy (India); and tried to dismiss elected legislatures where the majority opposed them (Brazil).

Are populist movements good for democracies? How do you make sense of shifting terminology? How can you tell if news coverage of political events and protests is manipulated? How will you decide when a populist leader has crossed the line into autocratic rule?

Below are resources for examining aspects of populism world-wide and over time. Subsequent blog posts will cover best practices for researching controversial topics and using current news for research.

Populism Virtual Display

Display Bibliography – includes links to access Books and Articles

The Electoral College

There are no tests, you can’t get a degree, it has no campus. It’s not even a virtual place!

The Electoral College was established by the framers of the Constitution as the process by which the United States would elect its President and Vice President. The name came later; only electors are mentioned in the Constitution.

The decennial census sets the number of electors each state gets, out of a fixed total of 538. This is one reason why conducting the census has been so contentious this year. The states then choose their electors, and those processes vary.

Image Source: USA.gov

The Electoral College process was devised as a compromise between factions at the Constitutional Congress. The number of electors equals the total of the Senate and House of Representatives; plus three electors for the District of Columbia. The Electoral College was divisive from its inception – Thomas Jefferson called it a blot on the Constitution – and remains so nearly 250 years later. It is the reason that a president can be elected while losing the popular vote. This has happened four times, in 1876, 1888, 2000, and 2016.

American History Online has explainers, historical documents, images, news articles, and more on the Electoral College. Another resource for understanding and analyzing this institution is CQ Press Library.

The National Archives has developed a website with all manner of information about the Electoral College process. (By law, the Archivist of the United States is responsible for collating all the state electors’ votes, and after inspection by the Office of the Federal Register, submitting them to Congress.) You will find links to the relevant sections of the Constitution, to historical background information, the state processes for choosing electors, FAQs, and more.

Even though you are not directly voting for the President, your vote is crucial. Voting is happening now in Indiana; here’s how to do it and here is where to do it.

50th Anniversary: Pride Marches

lgbt flag
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Pexels.com

June is LGBTQIA Pride month. This commemorates, in part, the June 28th, 1969 resistance by gay and trans people to a police raid on a popular bar, Stonewall, in New York City.

One year after the Stonewall resistance, a parade was held in New York City to commemorate it. Called the Christopher Street Liberation Day Parade, after the district where many gay bars were located, it is considered the first Pride Parade. The Library of Congress has recently released online the documentary video of this parade made by Lilli Vincenz.

This year, fifty years after that parade, we are celebrating affirmation by the Supreme Court in “Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia …”  that gay, lesbian, transgender, intersex, and queer people may not be denied employment on the basis of sex. This is an interpretation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. One case that created precedent for this determination was brought against Ivy Tech Community College. Read about it at FindLaw: Hively v Ivy Tech And read Ivy Tech’s current statement on diversity, equity, and belonging here.

The Library of Congress has gathered resources on a Pride Month research guide.  This includes links to their collections relating to famous and significant LGBTQIA people: Walt Whitman, Aaron Copland, Margaret Mead … and so many more. It is a reminder of the important contributions that LGBTQIA people make to our society.

Your Ivy Tech library has many LGBTQIA resources. Begin by searching the broad term sexual minority in Discover or IvyCat and limit the search results by format, date, additional key words. For help with more targeted searches, contact your librarian.

Explore Resources on Faith and Sexuality, compiled by Dawn M. Burns of the Ivy Tech Warsaw Academic and Learning Resource Center

Explore the Digital Transgender Archives online: https://www.digitaltransgenderarchive.net/

“Sexual minority” is the Library of Congress Subject Heading applied to LGBTQIA resources. Read about resistance to this, and other classification issues, here: Cataloging Lab and Homosaurus

While we pause to express pride, we know there is more work to do.

#pridemonth2020 #pridemonth

Welcome to Summer Semester 2020

Nature sun day background

We welcome our new students, and welcome back continuing students to Fort Wayne and Warsaw. The librarians and library staff are available online to help you have your best semester. We are here for our Professors, too!

Librarians are available for online class instruction, 1-on-1 online meetings, and quick help via chat and email. Find out how here.

The library buildings are still closed, but we have millions of articles online and hundreds of thousands of ebooks. Plus videos, audio, images, and more. In our databases you can filter for scholarly resources and most recent content. All these are preselected to support our courses, so using them will save you time.

We have guides to the best resources for many subjects, and guides to formatting papers, charts, and citations. See them here. Professors can ask for specific resources to be included on a guide.

Our ILL service is currently processing journal articles and ebook chapters. Our databases are adding new ebooks. Both Fort Wayne library and Warsaw library have new websites, and our IvyCat catalog will be updated soon with a new interface and functionalities.

Visit us online, and let us know how we can help you!

To Overcome Racism, We Must Talk About Race

Talking, and listening to others talk, about race is difficult. But we must keep those conversations going as we work together to overcome racism, because we will only find answers to our social issues by learning from each other.

We find this resource from the National Museum of African American History and Culture helpful. It is concise, with options to go more in depth. It is for educators, parents, anyone who may need to lead a conversation about race, and individuals wondering where to start.

screenshot-nmaahc.si.edu-2020.06.04-10_45_15

Book Review: On the Clock: What Low-Wage Work Did to Me and How It Drives America Insane, by Emily Guendelsberger

“I get to leave.” That was the mantra going through Emily Guendelsberger’s mind as she endured almost a year of low-wage jobs. Unlike her suffering co-workers at Amazon, Convergys, (a call center used by AT&T) and a San Francisco McDonalds, Emily knew that her time at each position would only last a few months.

When her newspaper folded, reporter Emily Guendelsberger decided it was the optimum time to fling herself into the low-wage workplace, to see for herself the indignities and despair dished out to those at the bottom of the labor market. A year later, she left with burns, a recurrence of PTSD, bad feet, a repetitive-motion injury to her wrist, and never-ending respect for the people stuck in such thankless jobs.

Like many people, Guendelsberger worked fast food in her teen years. She was raised on the rule “If you have time to lean, you have time to clean.” She thought she had a good idea of what would be asked of her, but instead she entered a new era of technological surveillance. Time management studies, scheduling software, and the ability to track every minute of a worker’s day has made even the thought of having “time to lean” an impossibility.

Amazon stocks vending machines with pain killers workers can access with a swipe of their badge, because that wastes less time than going to see the nurse. Convergys has mind-numbing acronyms and procedures that must be precisely followed – until they’re changed the next week. There’s always a line at McDonalds and the McFlurry machine is always broken because the algorithm scheduling workers ensures that no one has a minute of extra time for preventative maintenance. Fed up enough to quit? Go ahead, no one cares. Constant turnover is just one more accepted business practice.

On the Clock has terrific insights about how these types of jobs deal out stress and despair along with low wages. Guendelsberger provides clear explanations on the beginnings of time management studies, human anxiety, and the current business practices that suck all the personal control and joy out of a multitude of jobs. Why do we have our present government? Why are people so stressed out? Why is there an opioid crisis? Read this book and you might begin to understand why.

Ink Cloud 2020

Click HERE to download!

It is my pleasure to present to you Ink Cloud 2020.  It has been a gift during quarantine to put this edition together for those who were able to participate.  

Please take a few moments to enjoy the transformative effects of art created by Ivy Tech students, faculty and staff. We do not typically receive much traffic on this blog, but if you do stop by and one of these poets or artists reaches you, please let them know in the comments!

Let’s give everyone a reason to keep creating and sharing.

Scribd is providing free access to popular Ebooks and periodicals

Scribd is a subscription ebook and audiobook service. For one month staring March 17th to April 17th, they are providing free access to their collections for any new customer. Access will end; you will not be automatically enrolled. We have tried this free service and recommend it. We were required to download a free app on our mobile phone to use the service.

Reading a ripping yarn is a great way to relax during these stressful times. You will find many of the same titles in the Scribd ebook collection as we have in our current Baker & Taylor print collection. The Scribd collection also includes the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, The Atlantic, and other titles useful for course work assignments. (We have access to these titles in our databases, with various embargo periods.)

Here is the link to sign up: https://www.scribd.com/readfree?utm_source=readfree