Disconnected

Nick Kristof on academia’s unfortunate knack of turning its back on the world:

When I was a kid, the Kennedy administration had its “brain trust” of Harvard faculty members, and university professors were often vital public intellectuals who served off and on in government. That’s still true to some degree of economists, but not of most other PhD programmes. And we’re all the losers for that.

I’ve noticed this particularly with social media. Some professors are terrific on Twitter, but they’re the exceptions. Most have terrific insights that they then proceed to bury in obscure journals or turgid books…  Academia has also become inflexible about credentials, disdaining real-world experience. So McGeorge Bundy became professor of government at Harvard and then dean of the faculty (at age 34!) despite having only a BA –something that would be impossible today. Indeed, some professors would oppose Bill Clinton getting a tenured professorship in government today because of his lack of a PhD, even though he arguably understands government today better than any other American.

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