27 October 2009

Poll Results -- Relevant Academics

Hey! There's a new poll (lawn morals) on the sidebar --->
Academics (economists, political scientists, et al.) should be MORE involved in public policy debates

Yes
 89%
63
No
 11%
8
71 votes total

Ok, fine, I will keep blogging, but can we get some more folks involved?

Here's how:
  • Professors can start talking to reporters, politicians and the public. Either you will have something to teach them or you will have to change what you do.
  • Students can ask professors to relate class learning to the "real world."
  • Non-academics can ask academics to summarize their "favorite" journal articles as short (250 word) essays. (And no, abstracts don't count!)
Bottom Line: We (academics) may claim to be relevant to "society," but we are only relevant when we are engaged with the members of society.

7 comments:

  1. Professors can start talking to reporters, politicians and the public. Either you will have something to teach them or you will have to change what you do.

    1. David, you must be new to academia.
    2. Many professors assume the stance that they do towards students--I am right. It is your job to understand what I am saying. Reporters et al. do not view this as communication.
    3. Change what you do based on feedback from reporters? How many professors have you ever met who would do this? (see Stanley Fish's NYT OpEds for examples of this never happening).

    Students can ask professors to relate class learning to the "real world.

    1. Too easy. Where would the professors learn about the 'real world' and why would they choose to learn?

    "Non-academics can ask academics to summarize their "favorite" journal articles as short (250 word) essays.

    1. Who would act as translator for these summaries which would routinely be in obscure jargon?

    Bottom Line: We (academics) may claim to be relevant to "society," but we are only relevant when we are engaged with the members of society.

    Exactly. 'Engaged' implies two way communication listened to and understood by both sides.

    Good luck getting these things to happen.

    ReplyDelete
  2. @Eric -- you gotta start somewhere. And, yes, I know EXACTLY what you are talking about. I am pointing out what should happen (in the public service), not what does happen in our disgraceful current state.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Students have been asking professors to relate class learning to the real world for as long as anyone can remember. Doesn't work. Examine the incentives!

    ReplyDelete
  4. @oakandthorn
    In many engineering disciplines, you have to work at a real company for a few semesters, not all summers, in order to get your degree.

    Maybe that should apply to professors. They should have to work in an industrial concern and in their chosen field to be awarded a degree.

    Would that work?

    ReplyDelete
  5. @Eric -- hahhaha!! Working at a real company and applying economics!!

    But seriously, what do you do?

    "Hey boss! We need to profit maximize..."

    [Not laughing at you but at how UNapplied most economics is...]

    B-school internships may be better...

    ReplyDelete
  6. Here is an internship task for a budding economist at a 200 person company.

    Understand the company's entire balance sheet, income statement and pro formas. Find the people in the company who seem to be holding back the company's profits and who are doing their version of public choice for themselves (I watched part of your lecture). Then find inefficiencies in our suppliers and customers (especially if a customer or funder is a government agency). Include deliquent receivables in your analysis.

    Propose a viable solution to at least one of the problems that you have found. Extend your results to an initial macro analysis of the industry that we are in, include regulatory effects.

    OK, this might take a while but the company and the person would learn a lot from it.

    For extra credit, take your best partial solution. Try to implement it.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Love this post, David. Absolutely agree that academics MUST be involved in policy debates, especially economists and political scientists, simply because look where non-involvement brought us, an abyss of ignorance, misinformation and total indifference mixed with anger.
    Besides ONLY an educated society can make right choices. And since most of popular media right now denies/blurs that education, professors in their blogging must take it on themselves...

    ReplyDelete

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