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'The Great Shame of Our Profession' How the humanities survive on exploitation

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Replies to: 'The Great Shame of Our Profession' How the humanities survive on exploitation

  • CheddarcheeseMNCheddarcheeseMN Registered User Posts: 2,042 Senior Member
    Demonizing the schools is a silly notion.
    No, it isn't. The schools are responsible for the over supply.

    Totally agree. The medical profession seems to recognize this and limits the number of medical students accepted in the U.S. The GPA needed to get into some PhD programs is not nearly as high.
  • garlandgarland Registered User Posts: 14,604 Senior Member
    edited February 15
    Overall, though, it's not the graduate school's fault that so much first year comp is taught by adjuncts. Fewer English or Comp-Rhet PhD's is not going to change the amount of adjuncts needed in my discipline. So the extent that schools rely on adjuncts rather than on full-time instructors is on them. Unless they're underfunded state schools; then it's on us.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 57,162 Senior Member
    garland wrote:
    Overall, though, it's not the graduate school's fault that so much first year comp is taught by adjuncts. Fewer English or Comp-Rhet PhD's is not going to change the amount of adjuncts needed in my discipline. So the extent that schools rely on adjuncts rather than on full-time instructors is on them. Unless they're underfunded state schools; then it's on us.

    For low level English composition courses, the instructional needs are also related to the quality or lack thereof in high school courses. A college where most frosh need remedial English composition courses before taking frosh level English composition courses needs more instructors than one where most frosh come in with AP English scores of 5. Even if the college does not accept AP scores as fully completing its writing requirements, the latter students are likely to be able to complete it in fewer courses than former students.
  • barronsbarrons Registered User Posts: 24,353 Senior Member
    The only way to get US health costs under control is to make doctor and nurse pay closer to the European and Canadian levels which is probably half the current US averages. Will that harm quality of doctors--maybe at some level . And negotiate drug costs to the similar levels.
  • cobratcobrat Registered User Posts: 10,895 Senior Member
    edited February 15
    The only way to get US health costs under control is to make doctor and nurse pay closer to the European and Canadian levels which is probably half the current US averages. Will that harm quality of doctors--maybe at some level . And negotiate drug costs to the similar levels.

    Doctors in those societies are still well-to-do upper-middle-class and live well. Especially considering they don't have college/med school loan debts to worry about for the following reasons:

    1. College/med school costs are far lower than in the US (Sometimes nearly free).

    2. In many European countries, med school is far less than the 8 total years it is here(4 years undergrad + 4 years med school). In those countries, one goes straight into med school right after college-prep high school provided one meets the high academic standards for admission.

    And the broadening of one's educational horizons covered in the first two years of distribution requirements here in the US were covered in their respective middle/college prep high school stages of education.
  • LOUKYDADLOUKYDAD Registered User Posts: 387 Member
    edited February 15
    Do we really believe there is a need to restrict the number of new PHDs in these areas? Restrict freedom and the expansion of knowledge? Why on earth? What great social harm are we trying to correct here?
  • garlandgarland Registered User Posts: 14,604 Senior Member
    @ucbalumnus --in writing, there is a move away from remedial classes. The school I am at does all sorts of other support, but aims to get everyone through in the same two classes. Schools are judged by that four year grad rate. So though I take your point, even absent the extra classes, there's just a lot of students in writing classes.
  • LOUKYDADLOUKYDAD Registered User Posts: 387 Member
    edited February 15
    Comparisons to med schools is on shaky ground. It is very expensive to train a MD. Not remotely comparable in terms of the resources and technology involved. Not to mention the potential danger. No one ever died reading a terribly unoriginal essay.
  • roethlisburgerroethlisburger Registered User Posts: 351 Member
    A lot of these comments assume a Phd in humanities should be a professional degree designed to lead to a specific job, like law and medical school. I think many humanities professors would argue getting a Phd is an end in itself, an opportunity to study a field you love for a decade, and what impact it has on your career afterwards is secondary.
  • cobratcobrat Registered User Posts: 10,895 Senior Member
    edited February 15
    A lot of these comments assume a Phd in humanities should be a professional degree designed to lead to a specific job, like law and medical school. I think many humanities professors would argue getting a Phd is an end in itself, an opportunity to study a field you love for a decade, and what impact it has on your career afterwards is secondary.

    In actuality, that's exactly what a PhD in each field was originally intended for....to lead to a career as a tenured academic in academia or in related research positions.

    While that, in practice, has been obscured by some idealistic notions as illustrated above, most people IME pursue PhDs because they have such a deep interest in a given field/subfield that they want to make an entire career out of it....a career best pursued in academia with the wider range of freedom to pursue research topics/define research parameters...especially after getting tenure.

    The only folks IME who pursue PhDs with the mentality illustrated in the above quote are scions of wealthy/well-connected families(think Kennedy's, Rockefellers, etc) who voluntarily enroll as full-pay PhD students at elite/respectable private universities*....including topflight programs as a leisurely pursuit. They can do this without any financial/career considerations because they have support from multi-generational family wealth and/or ginormous trust funds.

    * A few elite U Profs I've had for summer/grad classes mentioned supervising such PhD students in passing in-class or in the course of dinner at said Prof's home.
  • prof2dadprof2dad Registered User Posts: 446 Member
    What is the core of these problems? Too many PhDs in too many fields; the job markets simply do not need so many PhDs.

    Why do we have so many PhDs in so many fields? It is jointed determined by high demands and high supply of PhD education. In too many fields, PhD students are cheap labor for teaching (can be even cheaper than adjuncts) and research assistance; short-sighted schools have incentives to take in too many doctoral students whenever they could. As a result, the supply is too high; this is particularly so in many humanities fields. At the same time, too many humanity students view a PhD path more attractive than all other professional paths available to them. This creates too much demand.

    The reality is that no one forces the schools to take in so many doctoral students. No one forces those doctoral students or PhDs to pursue an academic profession. They are all adults who could choose not to make those decisions. It is not like there are too many unemployed humanity PhDs is a secret; a 3-minute google search gets one tons of such information. So let it be; it can not be helped.

  • LOUKYDADLOUKYDAD Registered User Posts: 387 Member
  • prof2dadprof2dad Registered User Posts: 446 Member
    edited February 15
    From the article posted by the OP: "Adjuncts now do most university teaching and grading at a fraction of the price, SO THAT the ladder faculty have the time and resources to write."

    The author really has no ideal about what does it mean by being a ladder faculty member. Say a ladder faculty member in Humanities earns $60,000 a year. A typical work load may look like: 40% teaching (teaching 4 courses a year), 55% research, and 5% service. This means he/she earns $24,000 on the 4 courses teaching (so $6,000 per course, which is not far away from what an adjunct would earn on a per course basis), $33,000 because of scholarship/writing, and $3,000 for service. This kind of compensation scheme has been in the ladder academic professions for many decades (if not centuries) regardless of whether adjuncts are used. This structure specifically expects/requires the ladder faculty to spend time (55% of their work time) to write, and it is this work load assignment and expectation toward scholarship/writing defines what the tenure system is about.
  • ZinheadZinhead Registered User Posts: 1,800 Senior Member
    edited February 16
    The author really has no ideal about what does it mean by being a ladder faculty member.

    The author is Kevin Birmingham, who is currently an instructor at Harvard.

    http://scholar.harvard.edu/birmingham/home

    His bio is as follows:
    Kevin Birmingham received his Ph.D. in English from Harvard, where he was a Lecturer in the English Department and in the History & Literature program. He is the Humanities 10 Writing Director and an instructor in the university’s Writing Program. He was a bartender in a Dublin pub featured in Ulysses for one day before he was unceremoniously fired. The Most Dangerous Book was a New York Times bestseller. It received the PEN New England Award for Nonfiction in 2015 and the Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism in 2016. The Truman Capote Award has never before been given to a writer's first book.

    He gave up a tenure track job in order to write his book, so I would think he has a solid perspective on academia.

    Also, there is an editorial in the USA Today about this issue:

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2017/02/16/inequality-professors-college-administrators-glenn-reynolds-column/97949532/
    This is happening even as tuitions are skyrocketing and the numbers of (much better paid) university administrators are mushrooming. In The Fall Of The Faculty, Johns Hopkins professor Benjamin Ginsberg reports that although student-faculty ratios fell slightly between 1975 and 2005, from 16-to-1 to 15-to-1, the student-to-administrator ratio fell from 84-to-1 to 68-to-1, and the student-to-professional-staff ratio fell from 50-to-1 to 21-to-1. Ginsberg concludes: "Apparently, when colleges and universities had more money to spend, they chose not to spend it on expanding their instructional resources, i.e. faculty. They chose, instead, to enhance their administrative and staff resources."

    A growing army of administrators, standing on the backs of underpaid and overworked adjunct professors, is the kind of exploitative two-tier system that people on the left typically denounce. But now, although there’s a bit of support for graduate students and adjuncts who want to unionize, there’s nothing like the “Fight for 15” movement aimed at ending this unfairness. And, weirdly, no school is hiring “adjunct administrators.”
  • Gator88NEGator88NE Registered User Posts: 4,756 Senior Member
    Increases in govermental oversight and regulations are one key driver behind the increase in administration. A recent example would be the spike in Title IX compliance coordinators/directors.

    Nothing grows a bureaucracy like regulations...
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