A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
Richard Sahn. Introduction by William Astore.
Being a college professor is supposed to be a grand profession. Assuming we’re not underpaid adjuncts with neither benefits nor job security, our pay is decent, our autonomy is considerable, and we get a fair amount of time off in the summer. How dare we whine about hardships!
But the American academic profession is changing. Today the mantra is relevance as measured primarily by money (in one form or another). Are your classes full? Money. Are you winning grants? Money. Are you teaching subjects that lead directly to high-paying jobs for students? Money. And if you’re not “money,” you’re vulnerable to charges of irrelevance and subject to elimination.
Students today naturally reflect larger society. They too value money, commodities, consumerism, status, winning at any cost.
As professors in the liberal arts, we try to encourage them to value more subtle qualities. We…
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