Exploring Faculty Careers in Higher Education


Expectations for Class

On most days class will consist of 3 parts:

Part One: Opening

Part One of the class will include a brief discussion of readings or web materials for that week, and also time to follow up on questions remaining from the previous week.


Part Two: Presentation or Panel Discussion

Most weeks, Part Two will feature a guest speaker or panel presentation addressing the topic for the week.  Some guest speakers will give a presentation followed by a question-and-answer session; others will lead their entire session as a discussion.  Presenters on panels are prepared to each speak for 5 minutes, followed by discussion with the class as a whole.

Participation from all students is welcome and encouraged during these sessions with guest speakers and panelists.  Guests have important things to say, but all agree that they can make their sessions most effective when they are able to focus the sessions on issues and questions raised by students in the class.

You may feel relatively uninformed about topics that come up in this class, and as a result you may feel somewhat hesitant to raise questions that you suspect everyone else already knows the answer to.  The fact is, however, that the topics raised in this class are rarely addressed in most students’ graduate school experience.  Just by reviewing the suggested readings each week, you will already be better informed on these topics than most other graduate students, and most people in this class are probably in situations very similar to yours.  At least, that’s what the research suggests:

“I don't have any idea.  At this point, I don't know.  I have no idea.  Beats me.  I have no idea what it's like to be a faculty member.  And I thought being a grad student might give me some idea, and it doesn't.  I don't have any real power, and I don't have any real understanding of anything that goes on.  I guess it's about playing the game and making sure everyone likes you until you get tenure; then you can alienate everybody.  I don't even know how that works, I mean, what it's really like.  I don't know anything.  I feel like I should, but I don't.”

- Graduate student quoted in “On the road to becoming a professor: The graduate student experience.”
(Nyquist,  Manning,  Wulff,  Austin,  et al., 1999).  Change 31(3),  p. 18.


Part Three: Reflection / Follow-up Questions

Part Three will come at the close of each session, or will take place by email after class. At that time, I’ll ask for a 2-3 minute written comment or response from each person in the class.  These responses may raise questions for further discussion during the following week’s Opening, or simply provide feedback on the overall usefulness of the session.

Because this class relies heavily on guest speakers and panel presentations, and very few assignments are turned in, these brief written responses will be an important source of information for me as I work to keep class sessions on track and make sure that we are adequately addressing the questions you have about faculty careers. 



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