Some Facts about Life in Academia

posted by ush on 2008/01/06 08:55

[ Geisteswissenschaften ]

To be honest, I feel guilty almost everyday, when I give in to the social imperative to compare myself, respectively my "career" in academia with others. The message is so clear: I am too old, don't have enough experience in many fields, my topics of research are not hip or politically relevant enough, and I definitely studied too many disciplines. My collegues, on the other hand, seem to be much younger, much more advanced, do interesting variations on currently well-funded topics, are self-confident and determined - while I use to go with the flow of ideas, opportunities, and well-being.

It's true, there are quite a few very young and nevertheless successful scholars in the humanities and social sciences in Europe, holding more or less well-paid positions at different universities. Their life is as it should be. Yet, it is also true, that for the most of us, it  doesn't pay off to struglle with academic life.

I have mixed feelings when reading blogs like this very illuminating blog on the average career of historians in the Northamerican academic world.

Actually, I am not sure about the hysteria about age. On the one hand, it seems a bit too much of respect for "experience" and "wisdom" to eventually recompense a person with full professorship at the average age of almost 60. That's a rather cynical situation, when considering the very limited social influence of scholars, esp. in the humanities and the social sciences. On the other hand, I am quite as sure that becoming full professor at the age of 30 - though it seems to be right - is asking for too much taken the actual system of education.

As for myself, I'll simply go on with my non-linear 'career' - can't get younger, anyway, can I ?


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