Academia: Job or Passion?

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Photo: Liubov Vetoshkina

The major changes has been happening in the academia all around the world. Multiple discussion arise, mostly criticizing those changes. This one example is “from the top of the Google”, though rather old: http://www.drsustainable.com/the_academic_career_is_dead/

The author, Alex Hope, puts the problem this way: “I became an academic to make a difference not build a career”. This phrase pretty much summarizes one of the major changes in academia: from a transformation from passion to a regular job.

Last year I have read an amazing article on this transformation. The link to the article (surprise!) I have lost and have not been able to find. The main idea of the article was simple: the economic situation of the scholars has changed. Working in academia has become a job, a source of income for many people. Before the 20th century it was different: academia was mostly passion for people who could allow themselves to engage with science (having money and status). This transformation brings all these phenomena like “building a career”, “academic job”, etc. However, this very change brought multivoicedness and variety to academia.

Being an academic partly became a regular profession, just like in any other area. Anyway, the attitude remains the same: “make a difference”, “contribute to improvements in practice, influence a new generation of professionals, and develop innovative ways of thinking about some of the key issues in my field” (again, Alex). The role of scholar became contradictory: it is a job and a passion. How this contradiction will be resolved? What “thirdness” will replace the opposition of job and passion?

The questions require deep and specific analysis, but also it is important for each scholar to think for oneself. In my case, this contradiction is pressing: working in academia is my primary source of income, but I am not a careerist. Frankly speaking, even this idea of writing a blog about research and science is like sitting on two chairs: I want to communicate science and make change, to write on what I am passionate; I also want to improve my writing to be able to produce better articles and more articles. The situation is tricky. For now, my own strategy follows Alex’s advice: “follow your dreams – develop your ideas and let the rest sort itself out” and hope for the best.

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