Slow it down and don’t give in
I can’t wait to read The Slow Professor – and to share
with colleagues your Q&A with the authors (“The
slow professor,” May issue). Maggie Berg and Barbara
Seeber capture exactly how it feels in academia
today. We are losing the plot and it is not serving the
students well. I am pleased that they thought carefully
about not giving into the “crisis” mentality, which is
another piece of the puzzle. Yes, changes are needed,
but if you frame things as “a crisis is underway, please
respond,” people freeze and fear takes over. Many
thanks to these two authors and to University Affairs
for shining a light in the darkness.
Dr. Harding is an associate professor in the department of art history and visual studies, faculty of fine arts,
University of Victoria.
A critical mass
i am now retired, but when I was a professor,
those days of feeling pushed and stressed and
fragmented occurred all too frequently – and took
the joy out of my career. If some professors
within a faculty could begin this [Slow Profes-sor] movement, supporting each other until a
critical mass of professors developed, what a difference it could make to an entire faculty. How
much more creative and productive would a faculty group like this be? I hope the authors’ ideas
spread far and fast.
Dr. Bacon is an associate professor, now retired, in the faculty of
social work at the University of Manitoba.
An attractive alternative
this is an attractive alternative view on recent
developments in higher education. How refresh-
ing to encourage academics to slow down a bit
and concentrate more on the important aspects
of their work. This sounds a lot better than being
encouraged to run around like a headless chicken
attempting to hit more and more ambitious tar-
gets, some of which may be decidedly irrelevant
to the true concept of university life: education
Dr. Murphy is an emeritus professor of education at Nottingham
University in the U.K.
Lack of mentorship
thank you! At a time when I am struggling with
quantification of output, overflowing emails, a
“bring in the money” attitude, absurd bureaucracy and a sense of loss at the diminishing love
of my job, this article calls like a beacon to articulate my long-held feelings of needing to slow it
down. It also attests to the necessity for a mentor,
or at the very least, a like-minded colleague,
which, in absence, renders the sense-making of
academic work seem so much harder. The lack
of mentorship I see as a giant void in my working life. I look forward to reading this book.
Dr. Burton is a university lecturer in Queensland, Australia.
Slow professor? We should be so privileged
we read your recent interview with the authors
of the book The Slow Professor with interest. While
we welcome the continued expansion of critical
debate concerning academic labour, we nonetheless found much to be concerned with in the
interview. Perhaps this is inevitable, as neither
of us are professors. In this we are like most
within the academy. Though we recognize the
complex considerations that factor into the naming of a book, this titular exclusion is indicative
of the more substantive problems we have with
the idea expressed in this interview and the
broader discourse of slow scholarship within
which they are embedded.
We are aware that the notion of slowness is
attractive and even seductive for academics. But,
at the same time, we think that personal stories
(and inferences made thereupon) from academia
often give an incorrect impression that it is
flooded with stress, despair and misery, and that
other corners of society are not (or not so seriously).
It is also very much the case that the perceived
acceleration of academic life is massively socially
differentiated and often reflects power relations and
Please send letters (400 words
or less) to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We reserve the right to edit
letters for length and clarity.
Veuillez nous écrire à
nous réservons le droit de
modifier les lettres ouvertes
pour des raisons de longueur
et de clarté.