Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Service versus Summer Days

Summer days quickly fell victim to delayed service, so blogging will be light for the next week or two. The academic enterprise greatly relies on the third and least observed/rewarded part of the professor's job--providing service to one's department, to one's university, to one's community and to the profession.

  1. I have now much less service to my department as my term as Associate Director of Graduate Studies. Most of this kind of service ebbs in the summer time as people flee, especially the students. No job searches, which occupy heaps of time, either in the summer.
  2. Service to the university tends to decline as well--hard to have committee meetings when folks are out of town. Or at least can claim that they are. My role as Director of the Montreal Research Group on Ethnic Conflict bridges this and the next category, but since it mostly involves organizing speakers and workshops during the year, it does not occupy much time in the summer either.
  3. Service to the community can mean many things, depending on one's specialty. At TTU, the folks who did Public Policy were heavily involved in the municipal governments in the area. Here, my community service, such as it is, is mostly media stuff--some newspaper, radio and semi-regular appearances on TV. This is mostly event-driven, with my TV stuff at the local CTV station mostly focused on Canada's military effort in Afghanistan.
  4. Ahh. Here is the big one right now--service to the profession. Specifically, reviewing for journals, presses, grant agencies, etc. This always, always, always comes in bunches. This can be very time-consuming, especially one stupidly agrees to review large hunks of stuff. And I agreed to do a bunch of this before the trip to Europe, and, surprise, surprise, didn't get much done. I spent much of my downtime in Europe typing my handwritten notes into computer files, leaving little time or energy for reviewing other people's stuff. So now I am stuck.
I will probably end up blogging anyway, as I procrastinate or distract while I try to read the stuff.

Anyhow, this service stuff largely goes unseen, and is never really counted for tenure or promotion. So, the irony is that while I am critical in my written work of arguments that focus on the power of norms, I tend to say yes to service despite the rational calculus suggesting shirking would be the better option. Because it is the right thing to do. Collective action sucker, indeed.

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