Out of campus: out of mind
“How do you mean, ‘outside the university’?”
According to a recent campus-wide poll, that was the reaction of 92 per cent of Poppleton academic staff when they were asked about the extent of their off-campus engagement with business and the local community, an engagement referred to as the “third stream” of their employment.
Our Corporate Director of Human Resources, Louise Bimpson, agreed that “this disappointing news” did rather confirm the results of a study by University of Sunderland researchers Derek Watson and Lynne Hall that found that academics gave teaching and research their highest priority and thought that any outside “third stream” activity could “only harm their careers”.
But Ms Bimpson revealed that her department had already responded to this unfortunate state of affairs by initiating “a third stream orientation programme” that would seek to introduce academics to the idea of their being something “outside the university”.
At selected times during the working week, small groups of dons would be taken on escorted walks beyond the campus where they would be introduced to such places as “offices” and “factories” and “shops” and meet people who work in what is often called “business” or “trade”.
Ms Bimpson believed that her department’s initiative would help to ensure that academics would, “in the wonderfully lucid words” of one pro vice-chancellor in the Sunderland study, help academics to “interweave” their teaching and research and new third stream activities into a “helix of priorities”.
It’s a shoe-in!
Our Head of Appointments, Mike Jobs, has forcefully denied the allegation that a recent advertisement for a senior lecturer in our Department of Shoe Retailing mirrored in its specificity the controversial advertisement by the University of Cambridge’s Faculty of Music that invited applications for “a senior lecturer in Wagner, Liszt and the Cultural History of Technology”.
Mr Jobs agreed that the advertisement for the Poppleton department had specified “a senior lecturer in Freeman, Hardy and Willis and the Cultural History of the Shoehorn”, but any suspicion that, as in the Cambridge case, this might have been carefully tailored to suit an internal candidate was “surely negated” by the “additional details” section of the advertisement, which noted that Poppleton welcomed “applications from all sections of society”. He thought that “any reasonable person” would conclude that this also opened the way for applications from those with a proven research record in Russell and Bromley.
Last week our sister paper Times Higher Education published an article by Lars Fischer of University College London that bemoaned the exploitation of academic reviewers. We asked one of our leading scholars, Professor Gordon Lapping of the Department of Media and Cultural Studies, to review Dr Fischer’s contribution.
“In general, articles about academic book reviewing have been few and far between, so one should certainly give something very much like a welcome to this new addition to the corpus. However, those who know the field well will wonder why Dr Fischer chose to leave out some things that should have been included but found space for other things that should have been left out. It should also be pointed out that some of the arguments in the article would be all too familiar to those who already know the arguments.
“Overall, though, this is a valuable contribution to the field, even if regretfully it may have only limited appeal to those with no interest in the subject matter. One last personal grouse. Why no mention of Schopenhauer?”
Jennifer Doubleday is on Gardening Leave.