Nicholas Kristof usually produces thoughtful and insightful commentary in his columns in the New York Times. However, his recent article entitled “Professors, We Need You!” was such a lazy piece of writing that I found myself wondering whether his byline had been stuck on the column by mistake. The article trotted out very broad and very tired stereotypes of academic disciplines being too isolated from reality, and academics themselves being too wrapped up in their own self-serving work to engage with society or with the public.
Other blogging academics such as the political scientists at The Monkey Cage, the administrator at Confessions of a Community College Dean, and the scientist at Doing Good Science have already dissected the errors in Kristof’s article, along with pointing out the article’s failure to mention the structural, occupational and institutional factors creating the kind of academic work that Kristof denigrates. However, what I want to discuss is (more…)