Speculative Diction: Risk, responsibility, and public academics [July 3 2013]

This blog post addresses the way that early-career academics feel encouraged to engage in public or interactive communication, yet find that the professional assessment of these activities is still fairly low – and that the professional “risk” isn’t the same for everyone.

On July 18 2013, this piece was re-posted on the LSE Impact Blog titled “More attention should be paid to the risks facing early career researchers in encouraging wider engagement”.

Speculative Diction: On the Up and Up – Socioeconomic Class and Inter-Generational Change [September 19, 2011]

I wrote this post after watching theĀ Up Series, a group of documentaries begun in 1964 and continued for every 7 years after. The series traces the personal histories of a group of children through their adulthood. I was struck by how much people’s life trajectories seem to have changed within less than 2 generations, particularly with regards to education and employment.

The latest instalment of theĀ Up Series56 Up – was released last year (2012).

Globe and Mail: Who will hire all the PhDs? [April 12, 2013]

The latest article I’ve written for the Globe & Mail looks at the question of whether Canada produces “too many” PhDs. This is something I’ve also discussed in past blog posts and presentations. I still think there is a huge disconnect in the way the government imagines PhDs as “skilled workers”, and the reality of their apparent job options. In the future I’d really like to do more research on how people come to see themselves as “successful” or not in a PhD programme, and how that affects their career decisions.

Speculative Diction: Future Tense [March 24 2011]

This post addresses how students are often preoccupied with the future because they’re insecure in the present (particularly financially, but in other ways too). No-one can really blame them from wanting to know where university will take them, since after all, they were told they had to go to university in order to get work later. If you don’t know much else about it, it’s hard to comprehend what else education might be for. Ironically, this means it can be harder to tap into the desire that’s needed in order to excel at university learning.

Speculative Diction: Myths and Mismatches [January, 2011]

This series of posts was written as a response to – and a means of thinking through issues raised by – an e-course by Jo VanEvery and Julie Clarenbach called “Myths and Mismatches“. According to Jo and Julie, the “goal with this series is to help you understand your experience [in academe] as both personal and structural.” This was a helpful series for me, since I was in the process of thinking through the implications of seeking a tenure-track job (hence the in-depth blog responses).

Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: Time, place, and opportunity
Part 3: Assessing your qualifications
Part 4: Structural faults?
Part 5: The myth of academic meritocracy
Part 6: Getting priorities straight
Part 7: How to apply yourself
Part 8: Are you at home?
Part 9: Finding your place
Part 10: What it takes, for what it’s worth
Conclusion: Where from here?

Speculative Diction: The Value of a Degree [December, 2010]

These two blog posts address the topic of how we understand the “value” of degrees. I started thinking about this not just because of the ongoing commentary in the media on this issue, but also because a friend asked me about whether I think “too many people” have degrees, and I think that question gets to the heart of a debate that has significant policy implications. In these posts I reflect on what we mean by “value” and how the different underlying assumptions about this idea have consequences for the imagined purpose of all education (not just PSE).

Part 1: Relative value.

Part 2: Inherent value.