Post Academic

Broke-Ass Schools: Justifying Your Existence in Academia

Posted in Ask an Academic,Broke-Ass Schools,The Education Industry by Caroline Roberts on March 15, 2010
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Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox ExtensionMore and more broke-ass schools are evaluating their grad programs to determine which ones are worth it, and some programs are getting cut completely. In order for programs to survive, the professors, grad students, and undergrad students must do a better job justifying what they do, especially if there aren’t many majors in the program.

Why should you have to justify yourself to a bunch of MBAs who are only interested in money? It’s not fair. And not all disciplines can be monetized, but, in order for your department to survive, you need to prove that your discipline is generating students who are well-rounded, no matter what their major is.

Harry at Crooked Timber has a lengthy post answering the question “What’s the point of having a Philosophy Department in an American university?” and one of his statements stuck:

I like having students who are thrilled about doing Philosophy, and the handful that I have helped on their way to graduate school have been among the students I have valued teaching most. But so have students who became, or are becoming, social workers, nurses, teachers, and who took one of my classes simply to fulfill a requirement or on a whim or because some counselor strongly suggested it (the most insulting—because the student fancied the counselor who suggested it). When I think about justifying the existence of my department and what we should be doing, it is those students, and the value we can produce for them, that I think of first.

Focus on what your department and your classes bring to the core curriculum. It might sting that you cannot talk about your specific field of study, but narrow fields of study aren’t going to generate the kind of cash that will keep your department alive. Indicate that no matter how obscure your subject might seem to an administrator, it offers students a buffet of options so they can fulfill their core requirement so they can earn a deeper education and become more valuable employees or entrepreneurs.

What’s the point of having a Philosophy Department in an American university? [Crooked Timber]

Image from the German Federal Archive on Wikimedia Commons.

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