Friday, May 01, 2009

"An unpopular position"

Jeff Rice weighs in on the controversy of adjuncts being valued less in humanities departments than tenure-line professors. He takes a pragmatic view of adjuncts' choices and concludes with a piece of advice: "Don't take these jobs." And furthermore, he says:

And before you get to the stage where economic realities force you to take a job you don’t want: Pay attention to market forces when you go to graduate school so that you are preparing for a career that exists.

If Jeff's stance is unpopular, I suppose I will be taking an unpopular position by agreeing with it. Adjuncts, he argues, are tasked primarily with teaching, while tenure-line professors also shoulder research and service responsibilities - especially research, which is a critical part of the mission of a research university and is just as much the university's "real work" as teaching. Jeff lays this out quite well, and I would only add that we who train the next generation of PhDs need to be really conscious about emphasizing the choices these grad students will have as they prepare for their careers. Those choices are far more varied than adjunct/tenure line.

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