Magazine article Academe

Questions and Controversies

Magazine article Academe

Questions and Controversies

Article excerpt

FROM THE EDITOR

As the title on the cover indicates, this issue is chock-full of provocations. But the controversies explored by our contributors are not of the cheap, easy, or "hot button" variety. Instead, they focus on linchpins of our profession, places where the values and ideals of the academic profession appear strained by forces internal and external. From my point of view, the articles in this issue work best when they expose pressures-frequently not obvious or acknowledged-on our sense of professional identity and, consequently, challenge us to rethink our often too stable sense of how the academic profession works or should work.

The academic profession is, of course, continually responding to historical change, both the explicit kind associated with newspaper headlines and the more subterranean kind that happens in the absence of scribes or photographers. Sometimes, as Paul Lauter argues in his essay, the academic profession responds too quickly and simply to changes in the surrounding social and political environment. Lauter tallies the destructive similarities between academic and corporate values that marked the 1990s and points to the forces that may shape a "post-Enron" future for the academy. Mary Ann Mason and Marc Goulden are interested in an equally profound historical shift within the academy, namely the increasing presence of women on the faculty and staff. As Mason and Goulden demonstrate, our professional bildungsroman, our collective narrative of professional development and fulfillment, has yet to catch up with this fundamental change. Likewise, in his essay, John Jeffries Martin argues that the status distinctions we've inherited from an older version of the university (where faculty were paid even less than they are now) will no longer suffice in today's more complex, fragmented, and often confused higher educational system. …

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