"In many disciplines, for the majority of graduates, the Ph.D. indicates the logical conclusion of an academic career." Marc Bousquet

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Post-Academic Quote of the Day

I never thought about Jane Goodall as a post-academic before, but despite all the honorary degrees she has earned since finishing her actual Ph.D., I think she still counts, given that her research was all done outside the bounds of a traditional academic appointment. Here's a little nugget of wisdom from an interview with her that speaks to what we might do with all that academic learning once we've left the campus behind:
So when I got to Cambridge, I wasn't there because I wanted to be a scientist, I was there because Louis Leakey felt I needed a Ph.D. and he was right. But I didn't actually care about academia, and I knew they were talking rubbish. I knew they were wrong, so what I did at Cambridge was learn how to express what I knew in a way that did not leave me open to be attacked.
Being able to think critically about the world around you and express yourself to people who might not want to hear what you have to say but need to -- asking impertinent questions in the right kinds of situations without getting your ass kicked or getting fired -- these could be the most valuable takeaway from academe.

What do we do with this knowledge? I don't know ... I guess it's up to us to figure out.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting the quote from Jane Goodall. Yes, she's right..as are you. I won't repeat what you've said that a PhD teaches us to do since you've already said but I completely agree and yes, what we do with the knowledge that we gained in the process of gaining these skills...well, that is up to each of us to figure out. It's odd reading your posting since I've just highlighted a good article that was published a few days ago in the Chronicle of Higher Education about making Plan B your Plan A.