Commencement season in the United States: analytics, insights and events

As Allan Goodman alluded to in yesterday’s entry, this is commencement season in the United States; a time when graduating students, their families, and university officials all gather to celebrate achievements and life course transitions.

The images below are Wordle graphics of two commencement speeches given last weekend. Wordle clouds give “greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text“, offering us a simple insight into the nature of the messages that were delivered.

The first word cloud is derived from the remarks of US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan who spoke at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (a large public research university), while the second cloud is derived from the remarks of the University of Chicago philosopher Martha Nussbaum who spoke at Colgate University (a small private liberal arts college).

The Wisconsin Idea – Remarks of U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan at the University of Wisconsin-Madison commencement on 15 May 2010

Not for Profit: Liberal Education and Democratic Citizenship – Remarks of Martha C. Nussbaum at the Colgate University commencement on 16 May 2010

Note: Martha Nussbaum’s new book (Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2010) clearly provides the basis for her remarks.

Kris Olds