Speculative Diction: Posts on PhDs, depression, and attrition [December 14, 2011]

I wrote this post about depression and attrition among PhD students, thinking I’d probably chosen a topic that would only be of interest to a niche audience. To my surprise it became the most popular blog post I’d written (and still is). I still think this indicates that not enough public attention has been directed to the structural elements that contribute to mental health issues among PhDs and in other student groups as well.

In a follow-up post I addressed a number of the issues that had been raised in the comments on the initial piece. These include the role of the “ideal” for and of students; insecurity and isolation; lack of information before applying for the PhD, and the difficulty of accessing resources to help with mental health issues.

The first post was republished on World.com on January 3, 2012, and a summary appeared on The Scholarly Web on the Times Higher Education UK website on January 12, 2012.

Speculative Diction: Invention vs. innovation – Edison meets Tesla? [November 28, 2011]

We hear the word “innovation” regularly in discussions about the role of universities, and in particular in Canada where there is said to be an “innovation gap” in the economy. Building on a previous piece, in this blog post I raise the rivalry between Edison and Tesla, since those two figures are oft-cited in the discussion of how scientific advances happen and how they’re turned into commercial success. What is the key to “discovery”, and how can we best facilitate it? Can we move beyond these categories (invention, innovation) and find a more helpful way of thinking about how knowledge becomes “economised” in this way (turned into marketable objects)?

Speculative Diction: The aims of education? [November 18, 2011]

Sometimes (well, often) when we engage in debates about education, we take for granted the ways in which underlying concepts provide a basis for assumptions about education’s purpose – and thus a framing for the discussion. In this post I discuss the critiques of education that we often see in media coverage and political argumentation, and how education is perpetually “failing” because it’s assigned a task that can never be complete.

University of Venus: Word Watching [November 15, 2011]

For this post at University of Venus blog, I discussed my academic background in communication studies and linguistics. It’s a bit of a reminder that I tend to automatically kick into language-analysis mode, without realising what I’m doing – but that can be a good thing, since I end up not taking the terms for granted.


Speculative Diction: Contemplation of Innovation [October 31 2011]

This post takes a look at the report produced by a government panel led by Tom Jenkins, placing the report in the context of decades of Canadian government policy and critiques about “lack of innovation” and the low level of research done by Canadian industry.