All posts by David M. Perry

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Save the Academic Conference. It’s How Our Work Blossoms.

It’s fun to mock academic conferences. They are quite mockable, because academics are nerds. At our best, because we all know that we are nerds, we work hard but don’t take ourselves or our rituals too seriously.

And yet I was concerned when Christy Wampole, an assistant professor of French and Italian at Princeton, asked, in a widely shared essay in The New York Times, “What is the purpose of the conference?” Her purpose was to call for better behavior, promoting a manifesto of best practices (…

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Associate Dean of What?

The School of Social and Clinical Medicine at the University of Bristol is hiring a new “associate dean of eureka moments.” The job advertisement went viral on academic social media last Friday.

This is a real job at a real British university, not a satire. Someone decided to advertise for a new associate dean, an important leadership position, by using the phrase “eureka moments.” What’s going on here?

Jonathan Sandy, incoming dean of the faculty of health sciences at Bristol, writes in an emai…

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What’s Missing From the Debate on Obama’s Free Community-College Plan

Next week, when the president re-announces his “free community college” plan during the State of the Union address, I’d like to see him add a sentence about the teachers.

They’ve been missing in the White House language promoting the plan. None of the critics, even those who have said mean things about community colleges, have mentioned the plight of part-time community-college teachers. With a few exceptions, such as this Chronicle piece by Peter Schmidt, the journalism surrounding the plan has…

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Academic Freedom and Repellent Speech

What are professors allowed to say? Where are we are allowed to say it?

Last week Deborah O’Connor, a senior lecturer at Florida State University, was pushed to resign after making racist and homophobic comments on a public Facebook page. She said some pretty horrible things, like blaming Europe’s troubles on “rodent Muslims.” She also told a well-known gay hairstylist to “Take your Northern fagoot [sic] elitism and shove it up your ass. ”

I am revolted by her remarks. However, I spent quite a l…

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#FergusonSyllabus

How should academics respond to the death of Michael Brown and the non-indictment of his killer? If you teach critical race theory, criminology, modern American history, African-American studies, or any number of other subjects explicitly linked to Brown’s death, then I suspect you already have a plan. But what about the rest of us?

One of my beliefs about public engagement is that the process of becoming an academic, as both a scholar and a teacher, creates habits of mind that we can bring to b…