Open rough draft for forming a RC advocacy group.....

Rich Lemert llsmith at mindspring.com
Thu Jan 18 23:33:37 EST 2001


Arthur Sowers wrote:

> On Wed, 17 Jan 2001, Rich Lemert wrote:
>
> >   Regardless of my views on this endeavour, I recognize that I cannot become
> > involved in this if you are for the simple reason that I don't think you or I
> > would
> > ever be able to work together on anything, and I don't think you are about to
> >
> > dispute that claim.
>
> On the contrary. I know of a few situations in my life where I have run
> across people, including myself, who have openly said that their personal
> feelings say one thing but that they know that what the situation calls
> for is really something else. If people can be found who have the
> overiding understanding that what a situation needs is not something
> derived from their personal preference, then it has a chance to work. How
> you work within a serious context is, however, an unknown to me.

  I am pleasantly surprised that you feel there could be a context in which
wecould work together. And I'll agree that there are several areas in which we
agree
in general, even if we disagree about the details. I believe, for example, that we

agree that students entering into the study of science and technology should be
given as complete and accurate a picture of that field as is realistically
possible.
Where we disagree, I believe, is what that picture is and the conclusions the
students
should reach regarding career prospects in that field.

  However, the key to your statement is the statement "they know what the
situation
calls for is really something else," and that is where we will run into problems.
Of
all the regulars on this group, you are the only one I believe could have the
passion
needed for something like this to succeed. I certainly do not, especially since
I'm
not yet convinced that there is as great a need for this advocacy group as you
feel
there is. If I was, then perhaps I would feel we could work together despite our
different opinions. But if this goes forward, I would be more of an impediment to
it's success than an aide, and you don't need to add another challenge to those
you
already face.

>  It really may be that the PhD, the PhD,
> and the academic culture and the mindset really are not sufficiently
> capable of the cohesion, sense of common purpose, and brotherhood
> (compared to other cultures) necessary to protect their culture and interests.

  I suspect that here lies a major root to the problem your advocacy group isgoing
to face - I don't think there is _a_ PhD culture, I think there are a variety
of PhD cultures. There are commonalities (the need to chase grants - at least
in academic positions - for instance), but there are also significant differences.

As an engineering PhD, I have trouble relating to the culture of the biologists,
and I'm sure they have trouble relating to mine. (You'll note, for instance,
that we have separate national acadamy's of engineering and science.) This
is going to be a serious impediment to getting a 'general' advocacy group started.

> Then, we have
> all those who are in nice, cushy situations and essentially say to
> themselves "I've got mine, I'm not going to help anyone else" or "I've got
> mine, I don't want anything to change that migh affect 'mine'." People
> like Becky and Josh seem to be totally uninterested in the health of the
> PhD culture and I don't recall hearing either of them complain much about
> their own situations and hardly if any complaints about the PhD culture,
> itself, either. Almost the only ones we hear from are the ones who had
> trouble.

  This is the only place where I had any problem with your post. You are making
the mistake of thinking that because others don't support your chosen cause with
the degree of enthusiasm that you think it deserves, that they don't support other

causes. None of us can support all the causes we think are worthwhile, so we
have to pick and choose which ones to devote ourselves to. (I'd say more, but
Becky's reply speaks much more eloquently to the issue so I'll stop here.)

Rich Lemert






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