A 5th Way Economic Woe Affects Scholarship and Innovation ~ Praxis Habitus - On Race Religion & Culture

Friday, February 20, 2009

A 5th Way Economic Woe Affects Scholarship and Innovation

Quick update: After my post on economic woes for academics yesterday, I knew I would find even more.

As the Dow Jones Average appears to drop again today, the current economic woes continue to affect scholarship and innovation in many ways. In addition to yesterday's list, I'll add one more:

5. Institutions are canceling sabbaticals and faculty leaves which are almost always oriented toward initiating, expanding, or renewing research efforts.

The Chronicle for Higher Education reports that Kent State University canceled faculty sabbaticals for 2009-10 to save money.

This affects 60 professors and will save the public university about $500,000. The University of Georgia is another institution that canceled leaves abruptly, just days before the start of the fall term, for faculty research leaves that had been canceled for the 2008-9 year.

Hard to argue with the numbers. And there's little sympathy outside academia since sabbaticals are seen outside the academic world as a luxury. But this isn't about professors and their work conditions. It is about the continual churning of research and innovation.

The mill of careful, scholarly work turns slowly, and demands a level of concentration and persistence that is almost impossible to appreciate at a distance. Sabbaticals are actually earned -- the majority of professors must apply for such privileges with written justification for what is to be accomplished during that time and follow-up reports when they return. More importantly, the exchange of ideas through travel and paid leaves is vital, and the time to work without interruption necessary for creative work.

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