14 March 2014

Exploitation Is the Problem, Not Entitlement

Having a Ph.D. doesn't entitle anyone to a tenure-track job, argues nicoleandmaggie over at Grumpy Rumblings of the (Formerly) Untenured.  After all, if the world owes no one a living, it certainly doesn't owe one to people who have freely chosen to spend 6+ years studying and researching in a highly specialized field for which there is no demand outside academia.

The language of "entitlement" ignores the role that would-be Ph.D's play in the supply-and-demand of academic hiring.  Humanities programs are notoriously skittish about offering placement statistics for their Ph.D programs, and for good reason.  Many of them take on board more graduate students than they can hope to place in tenure-track jobs because they need the students to teach and TA lower-level classes.

Rather than talking about what people with Ph.D's are and aren't entitled to, we need to be talking about the staffing of college classrooms, and the kind of instruction that college students are entitled to. People with Ph.D's may not be entitled to faculty jobs, but college students are entitled to instruction at the hands of professionals with an ongoing commitment to their subject matter and to higher education, not Ph.D. students destined (whether they know it or not) to be cheap and temporary academic workers.

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