All posts by Alicia Pucci

New Open Textbook: Economics for Life

North Broad Press, the joint Temple University Libraries and Press imprint, has published its fourth open textbook! Economics for Life: Real-World Financial Literacy, by Dr. Donald T. Wargo, is now available open access on the Press’s Manifold platform and on the Press website.

Wargo, Associate Professor of Instruction in the Economics department at Temple University, has for several years taught an undergraduate course on financial literacy as part of Temple’s general education program. In the process of planning for and teaching his course, Wargo realized that not only did his students lack an understanding of financial decision making—including credit card use, making large purchases such as a car or home, and retirement planning. Opportunities for guidance on these major decisions were limited.

Wargo found that the available textbooks on the subject lacked the breadth and depth he believed was necessary to prepare students for the numerous decisions they would be facing, This, coupled with the high cost of the commercial textbook he had been using, led him to submit a proposal for an original open access textbook to North Broad Press. As he noted in his proposal, “Economics for Life: Real-World Financial Literacy is designed to help soon-to-be college graduates emerge into the start of their ‘real lives’ with better comprehension of how to analyze the financial decisions that they will soon have to make.”

With chapters on creating and living within a budget, evaluating and managing debt, and the fundamentals of investing, Economics for Life’s approachable style and accessible content make it an ideal book for anyone looking for practical guidance. Readers will learn how to use financial data to make informed personal finance decisions. The book’s Manifold site also includes a supplemental resource—an article by Wargo on the explanation and impact of the “pandemic recession,” defined as mid-February to mid-April 2020.

About the author

Dr. Donald T. Wargo is an Associate Professor of Instruction in the Economics department at Temple University. His specializations are in Real Estate, Behavioral Economics and Neuroeconomics. Prior to his teaching career, he held executive positions in several large real estate companies in the Philadelphia area, including Vice President of Finance and President. For fifteen of those years, he ran his own development company, Wargo Properties, Inc.

About North Broad Press

North Broad Press publishes peer-reviewed open textbooks by Temple faculty and staff. It operates under the following core principles:

  • We believe that the Libraries and the Press are critical resources for publishing expertise on campus.
  • We believe that the unfettered flow of ideas, scholarship and knowledge is necessary to support learning, clinical practice, and research, and to stimulate creativity and the intellectual enterprise.
  • We support Temple faculty, students, and staff by making their work available to audiences around the world via open access publishing.
  • We believe that the scholarly ecosystem works best when creators retain their copyrights.
  • We believe in experimentation and innovation in academic publishing.
  • We work to decrease the cost of higher education and improve learning outcomes for students by publishing high quality open textbooks and other open educational resources.
  • We believe in the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion, and promote these values through our publications.
  • We commit to making our publications accessible to all who need to use them.
  • We believe place matters. Our publications reflect Temple University and the North Philadelphia community of which we are a part.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Open Textbook Publishing: An Interview with Dr. Carmelo A. Galati

Image by Tom from Pixabay. 

Happy Open Education Week! During this week, we celebrate and advocate for open educational resources. Open educational resources (also called OER) are defined by SPARC as “teaching, learning, and research resources that are free of cost and access barriers, which also carry legal permission for open use.” These are teaching and learning materials — like videos, slide decks, podcasts, worksheets, and textbooks — that are free to access, use, share, and modify in the digital environment without copyright concerns because their creators have given others permission to do so. 

Why are open educational resources so important? For students, their biggest appeal is they are zero or low cost. Open textbooks can save students hundreds of dollars each semester. For faculty, OER offer an opportunity to craft course materials that are highly relevant, current, and meaningful for their discipline. In addition to remixing and modifying existing materials, faculty can create new materials or textbooks. 

North Broad Press logo

Temple University Libraries and University Press’s joint imprint North Broad Press provides Temple faculty with an opportunity to author their own open textbook. All North Broad Press titles are peer reviewed and freely available online. Check out a list of 17 open textbooks in progress

To learn more about why Temple faculty are driven to author an open textbook, we spoke with Dr. Carmelo A. Galati, Associate Professor of Instruction and the Co-Director of the Italian Studies Program at Temple University. Dr. Galati is the author a new open textbook, Gratis!: A Flipped-Classroom and Active Learning Approach to Italian, which is currently under review with North Broad Press. This textbook is intended for students with no previous knowledge of Italian.  

Why did you choose to write Gratis!: A Flipped-Classroom and Active Learning Approach to Italian as an open textbook?  

While leading a session on active learning for teachers of Italian at a professional workshop under the jurisdiction of the General Consulate of Italy in Philadelphia and the Italian Ministry of Education (October 2019), my colleague, Dr. Cristina Gragnani, and I discovered university students are not the only ones affected by the high and growing cost of language textbooks. High school programs are also facing issues and are unable to provide students with affordable educational tools to promote the Italian language and culture. Temple University’s Italian Studies program’s work within the Philadelphia community to disseminate Italian culture dates to the early 20th century. In support of that pioneering work educating students and promoting Italian culture, we created an open-access, introductory-level Italian textbook for Temple University students, as well as high school students in the greater Philadelphia area and beyond. Doing so makes foreign language study accessible to all and places Temple University at the forefront of internationalization at the secondary education and university levels. 

Tell us about the process of publishing this textbook with North Broad Press, the joint open access imprint of the Libraries and Temple University Press. 

Prior to Gratis! I did not have experience in textbook publications, as most of my writing projects dealt with peer-reviewed academic journals and edited volumes. Thanks to the guidance of Annie Johnson (former Assistant Director for Open Publishing Initiatives and Scholarly Communications), Mary Rose Muccie (Director, Temple University Press), and Alicia Pucci (Scholarly Communications Associate), the process has been a positive and rewarding experience. From the very first day of being contracted to author Gratis! everyone at North Broad Press has been very supportive and has shown great enthusiasm for the project. Whenever questions arose regarding copyright, formatting, use of videos, or anything in between, they were quick to respond by email and to schedule video conferences with me should I need further clarification.  

You chose a Creative Commons license for your textbook. Were you familiar with Creative Commons prior to this project?  

I was not familiar with Creative Commons (CC) prior to the project. As a language textbook, Gratis! is filled with lots of images to introduce, reinforce understanding of, and assess vocabulary knowledge of each lesson and unit. Creative Commons has made the inclusion of images much less stressful since I did not need to purchase individual licenses for the book’s photographs. Furthermore, in choosing a CC license for Gratis!, instructors who wish to adopt it are free to add more material. This may include new integrated grammar or vocabulary exercises that align with the context of each chapter. The CC license allows instructors to choose cultural reading materials to assess reading comprehension as well, since educators can write and add additional reading content to the book.  

You received an OER Development Grant from the PA GOAL program. Did this impact how you envision faculty and students using this textbook?   

The OER Development Grant supported the development of videos, images, and interactive H5P exercises that serve as ancillary materials and provide students with instant feedback. The grant provided funding for four undergraduate Italian majors (Aidan Giordano, Andrew Raker, Julia Rudy and Eileen Scanlan), studying at our Temple University Rome campus, working with two Italian faculty members and the Director of Student Activities (Daniela Curioso, Bruno Montefusco, and Gianni Marangio, respectively), to create original video content for each of the textbook’s chapters. The students’ contributions allow language learners to experience studying abroad virtually through videos that document their travels around Rome, provide a virtual campus tour of Villa Caproni (the building which houses the Temple Rome campus along the banks of the Tiber River), and record interviews with local Italian university students discussing differences between the American and Italian Educational system.  

Thanks to the OER Development Grant, Gratis! emulates the leading publishers in providing students with competencies that they will acquire by the completion of each chapter. Units include specific vocabulary that integrates grammar and culture lessons, while online ancillary materials provide students with additional support and instant feedback. 

All the unique videos, images, and H5P exercises that appear in Gratis! can be found in TUScholarShare’s Teaching and Learning Materials collection for download and reuse.    

What advice would you offer faculty who might be considering authoring an open textbook?  

If you are looking for a way to provide affordable educational tools for students and the opportunity to continuously reflect on and update best practices and initiatives to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion, then authoring an open textbook is the way to go! Most Italian language textbooks contain microaggressions that endorse heteronormative culture and behaviors, promote traditional family planning, and ultimately present a false picture of the world in which we live. In writing Gratis! I have been able to represent diverse realities for Italian-language learners and to make the learning process inclusive to all! Gratis! does not promote stereotypes of traditionally conservative Italians. Instead, it teaches inclusive vocabulary regarding the LGBTQIA+ community. It presents students with language regarding places of worship for all faiths, not just Roman Catholicism. In its goal to represent Italy’s diverse realities, Gratis! depicts Italians of all cultures, races, and religions. 

Thank you, Dr. Galati! 

If you feel inspired to create an OER, Temple Libraries can support you! For more information about OER, visit our Discovering Open Educational Resources guide. Contact your subject librarian if you want help locating and implementing OER in your courses. If you’re interested in writing your own open textbook, contact Mary Rose Muccie ( and Alicia Pucci ( for more information. 

Temple University Support of Open for Climate Justice: An Interview with Caroline Burkholder  

This week is Open Access Week, a yearly international celebration that aims to increase awareness about open access. Most academic work is locked up behind a paywall, available only to those who are affiliated with a college or university. Open access scholarship is completely free to read and reuse. Help us celebrate by showing your support for OA on social media or by attending one of our events. 

Caroline Burkholder is the Sustainability Manager for Temple University’s Office of Sustainability. She is responsible for developing sustainability programming throughout the university, coordinating outreach and capacity building activities with students, faculty, and staff, providing support for new sustainability initiatives on campus, and assisting in the completion of institution-wide sustainability reporting. Burkholder recently spoke with Scholarly Communications Associate Alicia Pucci to discuss her work and how open can support climate justice and sustainability at Temple and beyond. 

Help us to understand this year’s theme, Open for Climate Justice. What is climate justice and what should people know about it? 

Climate justice is both a term and a movement centering equity in the application of sustainability principles in policy and practice. Climate justice recognizes that the social, material, and health impacts of a changing climate will be felt differently by different populations and will disproportionately impact poor and historically underrepresented and resource-deprived communities.  

Unsurprisingly, people living in developing countries produce fewer emissions per capita than those in the major polluting countries while bearing the brunt of the consequences with less power and fewer resources for mitigation and relief.  

This disparity in experience is not naturally occurring but rather the conclusion of a racist and colonial extractive global economic system. Climate justice focuses its attention on the structural contributors to crisis, understanding climate change will exacerbate existing inequality and social action is necessary to demand restorative justice and correct past wrongs to ensure future prosperity. 

What role does open play in your work with Temple’s Office of Sustainability? 

The Office of Sustainability was founded to achieve Temple’s Presidential Climate Commitment – climate neutrality by 2050 – by greening the physical plant and decarbonizing campus operations; integrating sustainability principles into coursework, teaching, co-curricular activities and campus life; and facilitating research and resources to educate on critical issues of climate change and environmental justice. 

As Philadelphia’s only 4-year public university, an urban institution that is deeply engaged in the community, we recognize the Temple University’s commitment to sustainability can have a profound impact on the health and quality of life of a large and diverse population within Temple and its surrounding community and the Philadelphia overall.  

Open access and the availability of knowledge and resources is essential for solving pressing urban sustainability challenges, especially here in our own neighborhood. Our office engages with other sustainability professionals both inside and outside the academy, in city and state government, and across the region, country and globe to share best practices and strategize to reach our shared goal of decreasing emissions and building resiliency in communities, especially those who need it most.  

An open and equitable exchange of ideas in climate action yields a diverse collection of data: climate action plan goals, various institutional reports, greenhouse gas inventories, waste audits, faculty and student research, student tools for community organizing and advocacy, engagement, campaign and event strategy documents, maps of sustainable features and amenities on campus, and more.     

Temple has a detailed climate action plan. Are there any open tools or practices you hope to adopt to enable climate research and data?  

Temple University’s Climate Action Plan and its goals were mandated by President Ann Weaver Hart signing onto Second Nature’s American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). Among other foundational actions like setting target dates and calculating our carbon footprint, the ACUPCC commitment requires the university to make the action plan, inventory, and progress reports publicly available, underscoring the value of open access. The visibility of data and progress to goal reports is essential for all university stakeholders to ensure accountability for action, especially for those goals concerning equity. 

Another key function of the Climate Action Plan document is to increase awareness of Temple’s sustainability initiatives and programs. When faculty and other university leadership understand what we’re doing on campus and how they can take part, they can translate the local climate action work at all levels of Temple administration, and within different academic disciplines, into community engaged research and experiential and service learning which increases access to research and data and promotes climate justice.      

The 2019 Climate Action Plan had the following goal: 

Create an online repository for existing and future sustainability exercises and course material to assist faculty in integrating sustainability into their courses by June 2020.    

In 2022, in accordance with the research goals outlined in the 2019 Climate Action Plan, the Office of Sustainability, together with Temple University Libraries, established the Climate Change, Sustainability and Environmental Justice Collection for TUScholarShare. 

Tell us about your new Climate Change, Sustainability, and Environmental Justice collection in Temple’s institutional repository TUScholarShare. How does this platform encourage open practices?

The collection is a repository for articles, teaching and learning materials, data sets, research, books, and working papers related to climate change, sustainability, and environmental justice authored by researchers, staff, and students at Temple University. It features practitioners’ documents, namely, case studies and tools authored by sustainability officers and other institutional stakeholders as well as faculty, graduate and undergraduate research. 

By recognizing, incentivizing and connecting the faculty community, the repository facilitates a institution-wide development of a transdisciplinary sustainability science research agenda that integrates discovery and solutions-based research. 

This open access repository creates support for sustainability research, tools, and resources by not only connecting sustainability scholars and practitioners within Temple community but also by connecting the work of the Temple community to the broader local and global coalition of climate advocates by sharing knowledge and collaboratively building a just climate future for Philadelphia and beyond.  

Thank you Caroline!