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  • Critical Thinking and the Liberal Arts | AAUP
    the system for organizing and understanding the known world human beings societies nature that we refer to archaically as the liberal arts We isolate the rubrics of natural science social science and humanities and their various subdisciplines to the extent useful or necessary Indeed a defining feature of any system is the concomitant stability and plasticity of its parts The liberal arts form such an evolving system consisting of stable but impermanent fields of inquiry that fuse at some points and fissure at others adapting to cultural shifts while sharing a common language and assumptions overlapping knowledge bases and the core of critical thinking Thus we distinguish between psychology and philosophy or between the scientist s view of nature and the poet s but we also acknowledge the connections In art we look for the differences between impressionism and postimpressionism but also for the commonalities and historical continuities But however we define the liberal arts no unique approach and no single method text or institution perfectly exemplifies the idea In fact it isn t one value or idea so much as a group of ideas that share what Ludwig Wittgenstein called a family resemblance At its best a liberal education isn t intended to inculcate practical skills or to dump data into students brains though it may teach a fact or two Instead it s a wellspring of ideas and questions and a way of promoting flexibility and openness to diverse perspectives Why Do We Need the Liberal Arts The liberal arts have traditionally been defended as instrumental to two key elements of democracy critical thinking and citizenship Such arguments are indeed compelling once it is clear what we mean by those complex notions Another feature of the liberal mind is that it doesn t shrink from complexity Citizenship first of all isn t just a political notion in the ordinary sense Like the term liberal arts it s more comprehensive and systemic a social ecology involving a range of activities symbiotic with democratic communities Three dimensions of that ecology are easy to identify One is the traditional civic dimension which embraces a range of activities such as voting and jury service advocacy volunteering dialogue and information sharing and other forms of participation in the public sphere A second dimension is economic citizenship which means being a productive member of a community doing something useful for oneself and for others whether in a factory farm home office garage or boardroom It s also about being a critical consumer and seeing the connections between the political and economic spheres A third kind of citizenship and the particular focus of the humanities is cultural citizenship through participation in the various conversations that constitute a culture This is arguably the most family friendly of the three Take your kids to see The Nutcracker or for that matter to a circus a house of worship or a ballgame The arts religion and sports are all potential venues for cultural conversations It s no accident that many of our liberal arts colleges were founded by religious sects and host cultural events sponsor campus organizations and field sports teams All are important forms of community These three forms of citizenship interrelate in subtle as well as obvious ways and they are only the most visible bands on a spectrum of possible communal engagement One could argue for other forms alongside or within them environmental informational moral or global citizenship or civic engagement through leadership mentoring teaching or military or other public service But ultimately it isn t about parsing the idea of citizenship The overall goal is to foster vibrant and prosperous communities with broad and deep participation in public conversations marked by fairness inclusion and where critical thinking comes in intellectual rigor A liberal education is not about developing professional or entrepreneurial skills although it may well promote them Nor is it for everyone we need pilots farmers and hairdressers as well as managers artists doctors and engineers But we all need to be well informed critical citizens And the liberal arts prepare students for citizenship in all three senses civic economic and cultural What Is Critical Thinking Critical thinking is the intellectual engine of a functional democracy the set of mental practices that lends breadth depth clarity and consistency to public discourse It s what makes thinking in public truly public and sharable And yet like the liberal arts and citizenship critical thinking isn t monolithic or easy to describe An initial definition might begin like this whereas philosophy is about thought in general critical thinking is about my thinking or yours or someone else s in the here and now Digging deeper however we find in critical thinking another web of ideas with a family resemblance rather than a fixed set of shared properties In fact there is little agreement in the considerable literature on critical thinking about precisely what critical thinking is or how it is propagated As education researcher Lisa Tsui notes Because critical thinking is a complex skill any attempt to offer a full and definitive definition of it would be futile Moreover there tends to be some clumping within the bundle of ideas associated with critical thinking For example educators often cite the ability to identify assumptions draw inferences distinguish facts from opinions draw conclusions from data and judge the authority of arguments and sources But that s just one important clump in the bundle And these are not simply discrete intellectual skills they are general and overlapping and they admit of degrees Assimilating them isn t like learning the multiplication table The rules and guideposts of informal logic help us to make sound arguments avoid fallacies and recognize our systemic human propensity for biases and misperceptions An excellent catalog of such pitfalls is Rolf Dobelli s The Art of Thinking Clearly Students who are college ready have already absorbed at least the rudiments of this kind of critical thinking even without formal training much as we absorb elementary

    Original URL path: http://www.aaup.org/article/critical-thinking-and-liberal-arts (2016-02-13)
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  • From One Bargaining Unit to One Faculty | AAUP
    as contingent labor Ultimately as tenure track faculty came to see the administration was trying to create a university in which all but the biggest stars would be disempowered and unrewarded and as non tenure track faculty came to see the role of contingent faculty would be expanded but not improved But the administration s utopia is not the faculty s utopia Our faculty does not now look like nor do we want to look like what the administration envisions All of us have serious intellectual and pedagogical commitments Almost no one goes to graduate school wanting only to teach or only to do research We believe in a world where teaching and research are blended not seen as mutually exclusive Furthermore that s not the promise a research university like UIC makes to its students Indeed as our non tenure track faculty have always known but our tenured and tenure track faculty needed to learn a university in which first year students take as many as half their courses from professors who not only have no job security and no opportunities for promotion but also are massively underpaid is not one that takes its responsibility to its students seriously And the solution at UIC as elsewhere is obvious pay the instructors better offer them multiyear contracts and provide them a path to promotion Conversely it became equally obvious to the non tenure track faculty that the comparative advantages enjoyed by the tenure track faculty better job security better pay more autonomy were themselves increasingly at risk It s not just that the size of the tenure track faculty has been shrinking it s that tenure itself is being eroded see the University of Wisconsin that the economic privileges of the tenure track are unequally distributed within the tenure track see salary compression and that faculty autonomy has been increasingly compromised see for example administration driven commitments to assessment that have not themselves been convincingly assessed In other words although different sections of our faculty were differently affected by issues like these we all were affected in one way or another We were all teachers we were all motivated by intellectual commitments that included but went beyond our teaching we all wanted a say in how we did our teaching and conducted our research So when the faculty at UIC were confronted with the legal requirement that we understand ourselves as two separate faculties and bargain separately we responded by accepting the form but refusing the substance We put together a bargaining team made up of both non tenure track and tenure track faculty and we delegated that team to bargain both contracts Although the final approval of the two contracts would depend on two separate votes the contracts themselves would be written by both groups together And just as important all the actions that turned out to be necessary to get a contract including a two day walkout were taken by both groups together As vividly as we had

    Original URL path: http://www.aaup.org/article/one-bargaining-unit-one-faculty (2016-02-13)
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  • Higher Ed in 2037 | AAUP
    The response was unanimously affirmative He then asked if they thought the political climate had a right to influence higher education The response was unanimously negative But did the wishes of the class have much to do with how the world works We may safely assume that the future enemies of American higher education will be the usual suspects of popular ignorance poor instruction lowered standards diminished opportunity and inadequate funding But what guise will these common enemies take Suppose that by 2037 more weather disasters have left Americans less certain that climate change is the menacing result of human habit Would it be a failure of American higher education that well established scientific opinion even in the face of unprecedented floods and storms has less credibility than ever Yet in twenty two years the World Wide Web now a mega wilderness will have become a hyper super mega wilderness where no matter what our opinions may be we can always find those who agree with us Will this metastasis attack the healthy cells of higher education For all the current tendencies toward discussion groups and guides on the side the enterprise is still based on the proposition that educators know while students do not Will the web often celebrated today as a liberating dispenser of otherwise inaccessible knowledge reach a critical juncture morphing into an infinite and addictive wasteland where any form of ignorance can be found justified and supported Will that make any difference to the practices of American higher education Will practitioners of higher learning need to change in order to counter this lamentable trend and if so how or do professors in the 2030s just keep doing what they had been doing and let students explore ignorance on their own time as long as they don t bring it into the classroom while replacing the professor s knowledge with their own private but durable forms of remaining benighted Will university courses be downgraded into just one more source of information which happens regrettably to be one that I m graded on Or consider the predicted trend of young people toward a libertarian viewpoint What would prompt such a development What will happen over the next two decades to the widely heralded youth movement toward the social liberalism of the Democratic Party Suppose that the Republicans continue to estrange a younger cohort with reactionary cultural policies while the Democrats are still unable to help the new college generation overcome the job diminishing effects of globalization and robotics Suppose that a new lost generation has decided that the best way to live is through low paying work nomadic lives and innovative and self pleasing uses of cyberspace Suppose their beliefs come down to If you can t help me government then leave me alone and let me live on my digital device in my own way If education can no longer provide the training once necessary for work before machines made human production redundant should it now shift

    Original URL path: http://www.aaup.org/article/higher-ed-2037 (2016-02-13)
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  • Grappling with Collegiality and Academic Freedom | AAUP
    the number of illegitimate complaints of noncollegiality enabling heavy handed administrators and faculty personnel committees to punish or threaten faculty they otherwise might have left alone For example a policy that explicitly defines noncollegiality in whole or in part as disrespectful behavior could result in penalties for faculty who publicly criticize or disagree with another department member or administrator On the other side we found three main arguments supporting explicit policies First some argue that explicit policies would be more effective than undefined implicit policies at sorting out legitimate versus illegitimate accusations of noncollegiality An implicit policy provides no official guidance as to what counts as collegial or noncollegial behavior thereby leaving the matter to the whims of the individual or group enforcing it An explicit policy provides at least some language distinguishing collegial and noncollegial behavior and thereby provides at least some guidance and limitations on those enforcing the policy Second some argue that explicit policies would be more effective than implicit policies in supporting respect and a healthier and more productive and transparent workplace An explicit policy provides a public and commonly shared reference point a basis for resolving problems when they arise and for publicly debated revisions to the policy when necessary Finally some argue that an explicit policy created and enforced by faculty is preferable to an undefined implicit policy because it puts faculty rather than administrators in control of the definitions of and procedures and sanctions for addressing alleged faculty noncollegiality Both the PPC subcommittee and the PPC found the arguments supporting an explicit policy stronger than the arguments for continuing with an undefined implicit policy This judgment was driven in large measure by the fact that PPC members had become aware of abuses occurring under the implicit policy approach and believed an explicit policy would provide at least some clear protections in such cases for faculty academic freedom and freedom of expression Moreover the committee strongly preferred that faculty rather than administrators take the initiative to define and enforce a faculty collegiality policy Fourth Criterion Approach vs Limited Approach Given the decision to recommend an explicit policy we next struggled with whether the policy should limit collegiality to its impacts on teaching service and research or make collegiality an independent fourth criterion for faculty evaluation This issue carried increased urgency due to the fact that at least one academic department and one college were already independently of the faculty senate s charge to the PPC in the preliminary stages of considering adoption of a fourth criterion approach as policy for its faculty We considered four main arguments supporting collegiality as an independent fourth criterion Robert Cipriano is one of the best known proponents of this position which he advanced in Facilitating a Collegial Department in Higher Education Strategies for Success 2011 One argument for the fourth criterion option maintains it is needed to combat the current increase in faculty noncollegiality The idea here is that there are more and more instances of noncollegial behavior that require attention or correction many of which do not fit neatly into teaching service or research for example being rude or verbally abusive to administrative staff or frequently interrupting or objecting to others in hallway conversations or at guest speaker events A second argument claims the fourth criterion approach is no more or less objectionable than the three criterion approach because judging collegiality as a fourth criterion is no more or less subjective or measurable than the standards used to evaluate teaching research and service For example most academic departments at UW Stout do not have clear specific standards distinguishing teaching or research or service that is above or below expectations versus teaching that merely meets expectations If we accept that kind of subjectivity for the three traditional areas of faculty evaluation why object to it as a potential problem with considering collegiality as a fourth criterion for faculty evaluation A third argument claims that collegiality understood as maintaining a basic level of civility and cooperation in the workplace applies to nearly every occupation as an independent performance criterion and thus should apply to faculty as well Finally supporters argue that collegiality as an independent criterion does not require faculty to give in to peer pressure to conform it merely requires them to maintain a basic level of civility and respect in their disagreements and disputes On the other side we considered two main arguments against collegiality as an independent fourth criterion First some argue it would threaten diversity collegiality may be used as a basis to weed out those who don t fit and those who don t fit tend to be women and members of ethnic religious racial and other minorities Second some argue collegiality as an independent fourth criterion would threaten academic freedom discouraging dissent against popular ideas and the ideas of those in power After considerable discussion both the subcommittee and the full PPC endorsed an explicit policy limiting collegiality to its impact on teaching service and research The main reason again was the fear of overreach by administrators and department personnel committees especially in their evaluation of outspoken female and minority faculty or faculty engaging in controversial teaching service or research Content of the Policy After considerable debate the PPC proposed a three tiered approach for the faculty senate to consider Tier 1 would provide only a general policy statement Tier 2 would provide the tier 1 general policy statement plus more specific language distinguishing collegial and noncollegial behavior Tier 3 would provide tiers 1 and 2 plus mechanisms or procedures for administering and enforcing the policy Although the PPC ultimately endorsed all three tiers the committee feared that if all three tiers were presented as a single package for the faculty senate to vote on then the result might be no explicit policy at all instead of at least tier 1 or tier 2 We were convinced that any level of explicit policy would be an improvement over the existing lack of explicit

    Original URL path: http://www.aaup.org/article/grappling-collegiality-and-academic-freedom (2016-02-13)
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  • The AAUP in the Digital Universe(ity) | AAUP
    be and in fact is reexamining its own positions regarding the digital world To a significant extent the fate of academic freedom in terms of both public support and how particular incidents are handled is going to be determined online New Public Sphere In The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere the German philosopher Jürgen Habermas argues that the European public sphere of the eighteenth century what literary critic Michael Warner might characterize as an ongoing space of encounter was replaced in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries by an ethos of consumerism It has long been a common contention one that I share that what was once called cyberspace provides the possibility for a countering force one leading to the establishment of a new public sphere I am a little less optimistic than I used to be for commercial forces have followed into the online world taking it over as surely as they did the public sphere of three centuries ago and much more quickly The digital world does remain however a space of encounter though it is one that does not fit the models to which we grew accustomed in predigital times especially those that acted as gatekeepers to the public sphere The very act of setting words into type could cool the ardor of an eighteenth century printer or editor as would the fact that publication was generally a group process and that primary audiences were often the very people the writer lived among and dealt with daily As we moved into the realm of one way and distant electronic media in the twentieth century methods grew for the protection of propriety from out and out censorship to the voluntary monitoring of Hollywood s Hayes Office to professional standards used to hound people out of the media when they overstepped even unwritten bounds These were not particularly the best ways unfortunately and they often led to suppression or sometimes started there but they did provide something of a break between thought and publication In the digital environment there are no such breaks Two patterns result both best illustrated by political examples The first is the politician who has become so concerned with public utterances that almost anything uttered off the cuff needs to be walked back by handlers schooled in after the fact damage control This makes candidates so reluctant to say much of anything at all that almost everything they say is carefully scripted Jeb Bush is one such politician The other is that of the candidate who says essentially To hell with this I can say anything I want so I will Donald Trump of course is the exemplar The former seems safe the latter dangerous That in the political realm they are both calculated approaches does not diminish the power of the illustration for the distinction is quite real and it filters down into everyday concerns regarding freedom of speech for everyone and for professors of academic freedom Just as politicians spend days and dollars figuring out how best to approach the Internet so must we of much lower profile Freedom of speech and academic freedom have never been absolutes speaking freely unfortunately can be a tool for stopping others from speaking freely as I wrote in a blog post earlier this year Falsely shouting fire also is not right Though protocols can be dangerous the lack of them or the lack of at least some sort of rudimentary filter can also be harmful So it is incumbent on all of us to explore the changing needs of academic freedom in digital environments In that blog post I described a rule or two I concocted for myself Not wanting to be as stultifyingly careful as many of our politicians I still wanted to make sure that I followed my father s old admonition that a gentleman never insults anyone by accident One thing that I decided was to try never to write anything that could be construed as harmful or a personal attack about anyone who is not already a public figure I also try not to write things that could be misconstrued as an attack on any group of people of any sort Yes this is self censorship and I am not comfortable doing it I would feel better if as when I write for Academe there were others involved in the process people also invested in the product with whom I could discuss what I am trying to communicate or even a vetting process somewhat like peer review Then I could make my outrageous comments knowing that someone would rein me in Though the process of diminishment of the editorial process and the role of the editor began long before the digital age it has accelerated over the last few decades Many writers now see editing as an attempt to wrest control of the work from them rather than as a strengthening process Also editing takes time When we don t have to spend that time many of us don t Today First Amendment and academic freedom protections are as important to what we mis state as what we state This is a major change a result of the immediacy of access to the web of the new and public nature of discussions and even of what is now called trending that is discussions gaining traction through repostings of particular items sometimes thousands upon thousands of times Once a post begins trending the originator quickly loses control of her or his statement Although it may have been meant only to spark discussion the post can be amplified or twisted in myriad ways with no possibility of rebuttal or even continued conversation Freedom of speech becomes irrelevant perhaps for the act is no longer being used in a speech context Concern for the academic freedom of a professor becomes something of an afterthought of little use once the damage has been done And the damage as we are seeing more and more frequently can

    Original URL path: http://www.aaup.org/article/aaup-digital-universeity (2016-02-13)
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  • Choices of the Founders | AAUP
    s leaders in a bitter struggle with Henry Pritchett of the Carnegie Foundation over the role of the faculty in the proposed Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association As Tiede recounts the story when Pritchett complained to Stone about the AAUP s report in the matter the latter wrote to Pritchett that the report could give offense only insofar as the facts which it states are embarrassing The struggle with Pritchett presents in microcosm the mission of the Association s founders and the means chosen to pursue it The former set out in Tiede s title was nothing short of a wholesale reform of institutional government The desideratum set out in the 1914 call for the creation of the Association maintained that in the conduct of higher education and research nationally and institutionally the body of university teachers shall exercise effectual influence To do this the leaders set their sights against the corporate model regnant at a time captured in Thorstein Veblen s indictment of captains of erudition Academic freedom was an obvious component of the Association s portfolio from the start its role brought persistently to the fore by case investigations that had the effect of inviting yet more to be brought before Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure Tiede discusses these early cases extensively and places them in the light of changing times and issues of the evolution of the meaning and reach of academic freedom at the hands of Committee A He fleshes out how closely the leadership s thought adhered to progressive but prevailing academic mores with baneful consequences during the First World War In so doing however as Tiede explains the founders never lost sight of their larger aspiration At the outset the founders made two critical choices First the organization would be composed of only senior faculty members of recognized academic achievement This decision opened up the Association to the charge by Henry Pritchett of being unrepresentative it also posed the very practical problem of separating the academic sheep from the academic goats The latter issue was dealt with by pegging membership eligibility to ten years service in professorial rank instructors an entry level position at the time need not apply and by publishing the names of nominees in the AAUP Bulletin prior to approval for membership Both of these elements were to change over time eligibility for membership broadened and the vetting process was abolished At the time however restricting the membership to an academic elite was viewed as instrumental to achieving the mission which explains the second choice as well that the organization would eschew any identification as a labor union Though Cattell had been nationally prominent in proposing outright faculty control of institutions even he recognized how unachievable that was at least in the near term Just as the 1914 organizational call said what was sought was effectual influence not control A faculty union would be most unlikely to persuade boards of trustees presidents and the general public that power ought

    Original URL path: http://www.aaup.org/article/choices-founders (2016-02-13)
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  • Branding, Boasting, and Ideology | AAUP
    advancing social enterprise development through direct engagement and advance global engagement As an interdisciplinary scholar how could I not endorse these admirable aims They oppose such current practices as the stratification of the American higher education system and disciplinary silos It is now a truism that American higher education reinforces both economic and group distinctions by helping to steer some students to for profit colleges and others to the stratified not for profit sector community colleges state colleges private liberal arts colleges and public and private comprehensive and research universities On the whole wealthier students attend the colleges that are recognized as educationally superior Again and again Crow and Dabars write that they want ASU to be inclusive not exclusive An institution gains points on the US News World Report rankings for having both a high rejection rate and a high yield rate They want to maintain the fundamental principle of accessibility to all students qualified to study at a research university but the authors never really explain what qualifications they have in mind Nor do they mention that ASU has undergraduate tracks and a differential cost structure some campuses and learning centers cost less than others so do some majors A university or college earns more money from some majors than others Online education is more profitable to the university than is traditional residential university education On its website ASU emphasizes that its online degrees are a really good buy Yet Crow and Dabars do not write much about online education a topic that the ASU website seems to link to accessibility Designing the New American University correctly explains that residential education tends to work through immersion that new technologies promise not only pedagogical innovation but also performance enhancement and cost containment and that in pilot tests of what is termed blended learning universities offering blended courses in the humanities and the sciences report that in some cases students demonstrated mastery of material at a faster rate than by traditional methods Note the extensive use of conditional terms in that last clause ASU s website for online degrees does not emphasize blended learning Rather in his role as ASU president Crow explains to potential online undergraduates We have a duty and a responsibility to make certain that the learning environments that we have the ability to establish are going to be equally available to everyone and this is the way that we do it In other words because students in online degree programs probably find online education relatively inexpensive it is accessible And the ASU online programs welcome transfer students who have either financially maxed out or received mediocre grades elsewhere the university s online website declares More than 90 of ASU students who study online transfer some or all of their credits from a previous college or university Because of how the website reports its enrollment I cannot calculate what percentage of ASU undergraduates are working toward an online degree But based on the discrepancy between the number

    Original URL path: http://www.aaup.org/article/branding-boasting-and-ideology (2016-02-13)
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  • From the Editor: The AAUP's Second Century | AAUP
    Academe Blog is an extension of the magazine exploring a wide range of topics including academic freedom governance of colleges and universities working conditions and more From the Editor The AAUP s Second Century By Aaron Barlow Ralph Waldo Emerson speaking in 1837 claimed that the scholar must take up into himself all the ability of the time all the contributions of the past all the hopes of the future He must be a university of knowledges In 1915 well into the following century the AAUP attempted to codify and protect this vision through its Declaration of Principles on Academic Freedom and Academic Tenure The last two centuries have shown the power of the Emersonian vision as John Dewey and others furthered it and brought it to the heart of the AAUP It is now our duty as the AAUP enters its second century and as the American university system fights to maintain its integrity to define the place of scholars anew within a rapidly changing and globalizing American culture With its invigorated commitment to advocacy and organizing the AAUP is poised to grow even stronger as a voice for scholars both on campus and in the broader public sphere This issue of Academe is a forward looking counterpart to our January February 2015 issue on the AAUP s first one hundred years But any look forward is also a look back Much of what you will read in this issue shows that there is no break between the past and the future that the AAUP continues its traditions even as it becomes fully involved in a new age of corporate university structures and digital possibilities The issue leads off with Henry Reichman s discussion of the future of that core AAUP principle academic freedom Following his piece Adrianna Kezar and Elizabeth Holcombe share what they have learned from their work at the Delphi Project on the Changing Faculty and Student Success Next Risa L Lieberwitz considers the possibilities of faculty unionization at private universities something that was all but stopped in its tracks by the US Supreme Court s 1980 Yeshiva decision Dànielle Nicole DeVoss then discusses the changing landscape of intellectual property a particularly sticky problem as universities begin to see themselves as corporate entities Laura M Portnoi and Sylvia S Bagley examine how globalization is affecting institutions in the United States and around the world Even as we look beyond our borders the AAUP is also focusing greater attention on what some see as forgotten institutions within the country our community colleges Paul Davis describes his career as a community college professor and member of an AAUP collective bargaining chapter Beating a drum that needs constant sounding Jeffrey Scheuer describes once more why the liberal arts are important even in a STEM dominated world Walter Benn Michaels and Scott McFarland follow with an account of how all of us tenured tenure track and non tenure track can become a single faculty Finally Tom McBride offers a tongue

    Original URL path: http://www.aaup.org/article/editor-aaups-second-century (2016-02-13)
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