The academy as a political entity

I almost titled this post “Wherein I admit to being a hypocrite” because of this passage in my last post:

Going forward, I hope we can finally follow through on the National Academies’ 16-year old call for more versatile scientists and engineers. Someone has to has to figure out how to hammer into budding scientists that politics doesn’t work how they want it to…If you want to change something, you have to fight for it like everyone else.

For all my whining about the miseducation of scientists and the lack of career options for grad students, I’ve do nothing more than promote ideas and explanations on this blog. Now if I can only realize that the academy is a political entity like anything else, and won’t change unless I fight (as opposed to just write!), then maybe I can finally make some progress.


    1. Don’t you know you’re not supposed to ask hard questions here 🙂 In all seriousness, thanks very much for your comment, and I have to give a lot more thought to it.

      w.r.t climate change, “fighting” means getting involved in interest group politics. With respect to the sorts of issues I care about, I’m not so sure that’s the best approach.

      Here are some initial, off-the-cuff thoughts on what qualifies as “fighting”:
      1. Creating an institute/advocacy organization to dispute the notion we need more scientists.
      2. Organizing seminars, creating curriculum materials, etc. for current grad students to teach them about career options outside science.
      3. Publicly/institutionally shaming professors who prevent their students from taking classes or doing activities outside their research.

      I know the last suggestion is a bit out there. But I know people in that situation, and it’s pretty terrible.

      Thanks again!

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