Archive: Apr 2016

There is a new book out on key terms in academic life:

From ABD to P&T, higher education has its own language (and we’re not even talking about discipline-specific jargon or academese). Most Ph.D. hopefuls become fluent via the immersion method (aka graduate school), but what if there was a dictionary of sorts to help out along the way? Now there is. The PhDictionary: A Glossary of Things You Don’t Know (but Should) About Doctoral and Faculty Life (University of Chicago Press) decodes — in alphabetical order — 149 key terms for academics. Beyond basic definitions, author Herb Childress, co-founder of the consulting firm Teleidoscope Group and former dean of research and assessment at the Boston Architectural College, illuminates each term with stories about his own off-the-beaten-path journey through graduate school and the professoriate.

I’ll have to check this out. In my last year of graduate school, Academic Keywords: A Devil’s Dictionary for Higher Education was released, and it provided great insights as I prepared for my first appointment as a professor. It sounds like The PhDictionary will do the same for the next generation of aspiring academics!

The Pacific Standard website has an interesting article on how non-profits help close the digital divide, the gap between those who have access to high-speed internet services, and those who don’t. The author notes:

[T]he digital divide isn’t just about potential adopters. There are also barriers on the supply side that non-profits try to bust through, and most of them are mental. One problem is that businesses aren’t entirely aware of the financial incentives that come with getting more people online.

This is an important reminder, as most of the strategies I’m familiar focus on consumers.


One of the TV shows I’m following this year is the dystopian drama The 100. Recently the death of a queer character on the show prompted members of the LGBTQ+ community to launch a campaign to influence TV producers to create better representations of LGBTQ+ folks. Today I discovered a great article about why media portrayals of members of minority communities matter. Among other things, the author argues:

The natural antidote to ignorance is travel; it’s meeting new people and staying open-minded to new experiences. However, not everyone has the luxury of doing that. A lot of people are stuck in their physical environments, surrounded by people who are similar to themselves. This is where the media comes in. It is a form of mental traveling, full of experiences we are unlikely to have in our real lives. However, how likely are we to stay open-minded if the media constantly tells us that the world is violent, evil, and full of people who want to do us harm? What kind of expectation will that create in meeting new people? If the media continues to perpetuate fear, anxiety, and xenophobia it will be minorities who will continue to pay the price.

Many thanks to Tania Hew for telling me about this article!

When I was on the faculty at the University of Minnesota I occasionally served on graduate student committees. The last student with whom I’m working (on his Ph.D.) contacted me today about his dissertation defense date, so the era of working on graduate student committees might be coming to an end, given my full schedule of administrative activities. Then again, I was never the primary advisor on a committee; most of the students I worked with were doing unconventional things and needed a source of support in negotiating with more traditional mentors, so I can probably still serve in that capacity. In the meantime, graduate students are on my SJSU College of Social Sciences student advisory board, so I’ll always maintain some contact with them!