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December 12, 2003

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Dr. Emily

I'm not really a science person, so what do I know, but I AM a humanities person, so: I'm with you on the profit-motivated university management being bad for education. However, there is no dearth of humanities PhDs. There are tons of them. They just don't have jobs and tend to be working in other fields than academia. In far too many universities and colleges, teaching faculty have been made contingent semesterly hires. Retiring tenured professors, with all their expensive salaries and benefits, are replaced by several low-paid part-time, no benefits, no security lecturers. The math works brilliantly for the school. Department culture suffers from stress and lack of continuity. You can read at great length about the situation at workplace, the journal of academic labor [http://www.louisville.edu/journal/workplace/] or the blog The Invisible Adjunct [http://www.invisibleadjunct.com/]

OK, taking a stab at the science. I think I read somewhere that it's not so much about whether you do research or education as about the KIND of research that you do, that is, do you do research that corporations want to pay for? If, for instance, you did research about how Viagra overuse would make your dick fall off, the drug companies are not going to pay you, and the journals edited by people with grants from pharmaceutical companies are not going to publish you, and then the college review says your department didn't even produce any publishable research, even though, actually, it would have been a headline grabber.

I really think it's more corporate influence than a neglect of educational values. I'll stop before I start my textbook publishing rant.

DrEmily

Oh the synchronicity -- see this article in Wired about a botanist at Berkeley who believes he was denied tenure because his research challenged corporate interest in genetically modified corn:

http://www.wired.com/news/medtech/0,1286,61560,00.html

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