Thursday, 25 June 2009

'Nerd Alert':The Job Market, the Economy, and What to Do with a PhD: 'It's all Gobbledygook to me'

A few months ago, i came across an op-ed called 'The End of the University as We Know It', by Mark Taylor, the Chair of the Department of Religion at Columbia University. Click the title of this entry to read it. It's pretty depressing. Here is a little preview:
young people enroll in graduate programs, work hard for subsistence pay and assume huge debt burdens, all because of the illusory promise of faculty appointments. But their economical presence, coupled with the intransigence of tenure, ensures that there will always be too many candidates for too few openings.
To balance that out a bit, click here. About a month before this article came out, Will Ferrell starred in his own Broadway play called You're Welcome America--A Final Night With George W Bush--basically an extended reprisal of his SNL character mocking Dubya. I didn't watch the whole thing, but i did see the segment about Bush giving clever nicknames on the spot to members of the audience based on their occupations. At 2 minutes into the segment, a Shakespeare scholar (and it looks like Edward Norton is sitting next to her...) is called upon, and gets the longest commentary on her job:

Hmm. That reminds me of part of the article:
Each academic becomes the trustee not of a branch of the sciences, but of limited knowledge that all too often is irrelevant for genuinely important problems. A colleague recently boasted to me that his best student was doing his dissertation on how the medieval theologian Duns Scotus used citations.
For real? How Duns Scotus used citations?! That does seem like an 'unnecessary subject.' And if, as Taylor claims, the Academy is churning out more of us than can get jobs and there's no guarantee of us getting a seat next to Edward Norton, well that's really disheartening.

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