Monday, August 1, 2016

A Good Academic Life: A Manifesto

I believe that teaching and research are synergistic activities. Excellence in one does not come at the cost of another, it improves it. Any institution short changing one is suffering a loss of intellectual capital.

I believe that we do not have the right tools to quantitatively measure the impact of an academic. This does not mean that we shouldn’t try, but it does mean that we should take our tools less seriously.

I believe that excellence in the classroom cannot be scripted.


I believe that academic freedom means the ability to follow the path of knowledge for its own sake. We do not yet know which bits of fundamental knowledge will yield applied advances. I believe in useless knowledge.

I believe that the goals of being a good academic and being a good scientist should be in alignment. Academic freedom is the ability to do this in the face of broken incentive structures.

I believe that if you are writing a paper merely for increasing the length of your CV, you are doing it wrong.

I believe that science only works when it is open. I believe in making my papers openly available on the web, in sharing data, and treating publication as communication first, accolade second

I believe in open access. Science that is locked up behind a paywall isn’t science. 

I believe that learning is doing. Education is not “infotainment” and it’s better to demonstrate learning through projects than tests.

I believe that pride comes from hard work. Very few people can point to an “easy A” class as a life changing one. Similarly, the papers that ultimately have the most impact are those that stretch you the most.

I believe there is a difference between hard work and burnout. Burnout is antithetical to creativity.

I agree that teaching is a radical act of hope

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