Professors launch free online PAX course textbook
Profs. Peter Gould PhD’02 (PAX) and John Ungerleider (PAX) held a launch for their free open-access textbook titled “The Inner Peace Outer Peace Reader” on Wednesday. The textbook contains a majority of the readings for the course Inner Peace and Outer Peace, which Gould and Ungerleider have taught every spring semester since 2010 as part of Brandeis’ Peace, Conflict & Coexistence Studies Program.
“The Inner Peace Outer Peace Reader” is an open-educational resource, which is an online educational text that anyone can access for free. “It’s not just available to you, to this class,” Gould said. “Anybody anywhere in the world who hears about the class, who wants to delve a little more into the subjects of inner peace and outer peace … can find this book and go to it and use it for free.”
Gould explained that his daughter, a librarian at University of California, Berkeley, saw that the Brandeis Library was offering a grant for University faculty to make an open-access book, giving him the idea to compile “The Inner Peace Outer Peace Reader” with Ungerleider.
Gould emphasized the importance of his and Ungerleider’s textbook being free to access. “A lot of students decide not to take a class because the books are too expensive,” he said, later referring to textbooks as a “paywall” for students. He noted that he was “excited to get through the paywall that has been erected, making it hard for some students to take certain classes.”
Gould shared his own experience as a student at Brandeis, recalling the huge and expensive stacks of books he would accrue each semester. Many times he did not know if the assigned books would even be read.
According to a Jan. 26 CBS News article, over the past 10 years, the price of college textbooks has risen four times faster than the inflation rate. As a result, 65 percent of students do not buy at least one required text during their time at college, Kristof wrote.
Associate University Librarian for Research and Instruction Laura Hibbler also spoke at the launch, explaining that students sometimes paid as much as $1,000 for books per year. She also pointed out that professors want their published research to be more widely read, but the price of journal articles discourages some of those outside the Brandeis community from reading their work.
Hibbler said that in addition to grants like the one Gould and Ungerleider took advantage of, the library has an open-access fund that allows professors to publish their work so that it is free for students, while avoiding a fee themselves. Hibbler encouraged students at the launch to think about using open-educational resources should they ever become teachers.
Gould also pointed out that because the reader was online, he or Ungerleider could include videos in the book and update the text at any time.
According to the textbook’s introduction, the course that the book is written for was conceived by Prof. Gordie Fellman after the Dalai Lama came to Brandeis in 1998. The textbook describes the course as “an evolving exploration of the dynamic relationship between mindfulness practice and conflict transformation and peacebuilding.”
The cover art for the textbook, a painting of a foliage-filled landscape through an open-window, was made by Gould’s wife.
Gould and Ungerleider’s book is available on Pressbooks, a website through which professors can make open-educational resources available to their students.