“Go, then, there are other worlds than these.” ~ Jake, from Stephen King’s The Dark Tower

The Bridge

Many academics spend graduate school and the early years of their career assuming that 1) they are cut out for one thing and one thing alone–being an academic–and that if they can’t do that thing, they can’t do anything; and 2) that there’s not much else worth doing; anything less is “failure” or “selling out.”  They are wrong–on both counts.  MetAcademy begins from this premise.  As career counselor Robin Wagner points out,

“When academics look for non-academic careers, the single most important and empowering event…is reaching the crucial epiphany that in the course of becoming a historian or a linguist, you have also developed a host of powerful skills that can be extremely valuable in many other contexts.”  

The next step–the hard step–is figuring out where to go from there.

MetAcademy is a hub for discussion, debate, news, information, and organizing about the cresting crises in academia in general and academic philosophy in particular, and for building the intellectual, informational, and institutional infrastructure for the future role and applications of philosophy in public and private life.  If you are a graduate student, an academic, a post-academic, or a professional with interests in the academy, MetAcademy is your go-to, one-stop shop for information and resources about life and work beyond the academy.

The title reflects my view about the healthiest way to frame the relationship between academia and the outside world.  The academy should be neither castigated nor clung to:  our approach should be balanced, both/and, transcend the worst, include the best.  We should be opening the channels, building the bridges, lighting the pathways, and forging the bonds connecting the academy with other spheres.

MetAcademy signifies what philosophy was, is, and can be beyond the confines of teaching and research in the academy; where it will go if and when its influence in the academy wanes even further in the future; and how philosophical practice—educating, writing, counseling, and consulting—can expand the role of philosophy, in some ways fulfilling its potential in ways that the academy never could.

I have attempted to systematically collect and curate the extant resources on the web pertaining to the cluster of issues fueling and fueled by the crisis:

–the “adjunctification” and “corporatization” of the university

–the effects of the Great Recession on higher education

–the psychological and financial struggles of graduate students and recent PhDs

–the changing relationship between the academy and the so-called “real world”

–the long-term implications of online education, social media, and technology for the higher education model

–the increasing pursuit of alternative careers by academics

–the potential and the challenges of applying philosophy outside the academy

Non-Ac:  Professional Versatility for PhDs

With the glut in the academic labor market, an increasing number of academics have begun to pursue paths outside the academy.  However, this move is becoming less about “taking a job,” “selling out,” or settling for “Plan B,” and more about finding alternative careers that are just as intellectually stimulating and socially beneficial as academic work. Success stories abound, and the opportunities are legion, but the paths are not well lighted.   Where do they lead?  Read More.

The 67%:  The Age of the Adjunct

We hear a lot these days about the 1%, the 99%, and the 47%.  What most people have not heard of, however, is the 67%:  that is the percentage of professors in American higher education who are “contingent” faculty, which means not tenured or not on the tenure track.  What are the consequences of this for these professors, for graduate students, and for the students they teach?  Read More.

The Dark Tower:  Academia in Crisis

The skyrocketing cost of college tuition, the crushing burden of student loan debt, the alleged “corporatization” of the university, the increased reliance on contingent faculty, the growth of online learning, the decline of the humanities, and concern among employers that graduates are not well equipped for the job market are all causing people to question the value, health, and future of academia as an institution.  While the “Ivory Tower” continues to be our reigning metaphor to describe the academy, many would argue that it is worn.  What is the future of higher education?  Read More.

Corporate Philosophy:  Philosophy in the Business World

One would think that no environment in today’s society could be more opposed to philosophy than the corporate world.  The ruthless pursuit of profit and obsession with the bottom line seem inconsistent with the search for truth and the cultivation of the moral life.  Yet a number of areas in today’s business world, such as Corporate Social Responsibility, ethics compliance, executive coaching and development, and management consulting enlist the talents and skills of philosophers and folks trained in the humanities.  Read More.

Public Philosophy:  in the Polis and the Public Square

The archetype of the public intellectual has retreated from our public discourse.  The romantic scene of intellectuals, or just educated citizens, locked in impassioned debate in a salon or tavern seems like an anachronism.  However, we are seeing a spike in the public’s interest in philosophy, online, in cafes, and in fora all over the world.  How, where, and why is this happening?  Read More.

(Photo:  Malaysian cave, at http://blog.malaysiajao.com/2010/07/go-jungle-trekking-go-to-mulu-caves.html)