Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Fish and the role of the professor 

AtlanticBlog points out a critique of Stanley Fish's Chronicle article on what an academic should do. Sjostrom notes:
When a university commits itself to political goals not part of the functioning of the university, it is destroying the spirit of free inquiry. For a professor to pursue a political agenda in the classroom is inimical to the prospects of a student's free inquiry.
Yet we have faculty who use university resources to promote peace protests and define it as part of their academic mission. To wit, last October one faculty member sent an announcement of a presentation on the School of the Americas, a pet peeve of the Left. After a reminder post from the computer services people on appropriate use of the faculty listserv, wrote this:
I object to this posting being sent out immediately after my announcement about academics around the country signing a statement against a war in Iraq. This is not an announcement about any political candidates or the election. Further, this is integrally related to my professional work as I teach about human rights in the United States and all over the world. I'm sure these topics relate to the professional work of many others on this campus as well. Indeed, I would argue that a war against Iraq will affect us all personally and professionally and will affect our institution in many ways as well. The fact that thousands and thousands of academics around the country have signed such a statement is an historic and momentous event, one about which our faculty should have the opportunity of being notified. It is clearly an academic matter. (Italics mine.).
A pretty elastic definition, wouldn't you say?