A Cure for Academic Classism

You rarely see, for example, a faculty member from an Ivy League university alongside one from a community college on a Modern Language Association panel, regardless of any research interests they might share. That shows the dangerous classism that pervades academe, something I admittedly did not see for myself until I began teaching at a “second tier” institution.

That classism is dangerous not because those of us who are categorized as less elite may be slighted at conferences or by journals or seminar leaders. It is dangerous because it divides us — faculty members and students alike — at a moment when financing for higher education is eroding, when grants for professional development and research are shrinking, when even the largest and most prestigious universities are still cutting faculty positions.

It is critical for the well-being of the academy and the students we serve that faculty members find common ground and work together. One way to do that is to work together locally; that is, for institutions — public and private, large and small — in a given area to capitalize on their proximity and benefit from one another’s strengths. Hence my immodest proposal: Professors within a given region would swap jobs for a semester or a year with colleagues at institutions with different Carnegie ratings. —Lisa BothsonA Cure for Academic Classism (Chronicle)

Not very practical, but an interesting suggestion. I’ve blogged before about the life I might have had if certain job interviews had gone better or worse than they did, and I had ended up somewhere very different from where I am teaching now.