Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A totally off the wall proposal

Think Fulbright.
Think Teach for America.
Think global post-docs.

Why are there so many highly qualified, energetic, enthusiastic, intelligent PhDs wallowing away, frittering their talents? Why will so many of us wind up throwing away those strengths rather than sharing them in teaching and research?

Are there not needs for faculty, scholars, and researchers at universities around the globe? Sure, Fulbright offers grants for scholars, researchers, and faculty, but from my experience, these are opportunities reserved for (or highly preferenced towards) the already affiliated.

But just what could we do with a program that placed recent post-docs within their fields at universities around the world, for one year or two or three year stints? I think a great deal of good.

8 comments:

Dean Dad said...

Cool idea, but isn't there a similar glut of applicants in other parts of the world, too?

grumpyABDadjunct said...

It is a great idea! Dean Dad is right about the global glut but I still like the idea.

ArticulateDad said...

Dean Dad & GrumpyABDadjunct,

Perhaps. I couldn't say for sure. But I would be willing to bet there are many parts of the world where there is a dearth of scholars, in particular poorer parts of the world. I'm not talking Germany and France.

Of course, I wouldn't be the first to line up for a chance to teach at Baghdad University. But there are many other places, outside of war zones: Romania; Lithuania; Cambodia. Hasn't it been said that in times of trouble is when we most need poetry? I'd say it is when the world turns to war that we most need the vision of scholarship, the timeless transcendence of ideas.

One rumor going around during my time as a Fulbright in Central Europe was the need or desire to hire English-fluent professors. The plan as it came to me was to eventually offer enough English-language classes in each major to allow someone to graduate. The plan would facilitate students from across the EU members in a common language.

All this says to me is that there very well may be a place there, a need, and an opportunity. All that is lacking is the funding and the coordination.

Lilian said...

I think it's a brilliant idea. Glad I saw this before you take it down.

J. Otto Pohl said...

It is not much easier to get a job in these countries than in the US. I have been trying for several years to get a job teaching in one of these countries for $500 a month. I have two books published by scholary presses, several peer reviewed journal articles and a Ph.D. from U. of London. Still all they want is teaching experience.

ArticulateDad said...

Thanks, J. Otto Pohl,

Good information. I did find one of the difficulties (in Central Europe) was perhaps an even more entrenched conservatism in the academy than here in the States, and that's saying something. Perhaps it's my own ignorance of the difficulties elsewhere, but from where I sit it looks like more innovation is taking place (at least in my areas of research) in the UK and Canada, and to some extent in Germany.

That leaves off these "other parts". I venture however that there is need for big thinking, for the positive distraction of ideas beyond the day-to-day struggles (and especially hatreds). Is it possible to get such a plan off the ground? I don't know.

One thing that has struck me, giving me a glimmer of hope, is the fact that my PRW quite often gets hits from Iran, where at least some researchers are interested in the ideas I am working to address. Is it possible for an American secular Jew to reach out to scholars in Iran? I still believe in a world where that is not only possible, but where such actions would breed positive results.

All that said, it doesn't directly address the information you have regarding the difficulties for a scholar without current teaching credentials. Would schools in those places be more open to taking on guest scholars if the funds were provided from elsewhere?

Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

It is such a good idea that we are going to steal it for a debate case this weekend... I'll let you know if they use it!

ArticulateDad said...

Thanks, Inside, I guess I'll leave this up. Be sure to let us know if they use it, and what the arguments are. Let's keep thinking about this folks. Could we make it a reality?