Location and Academia

There is a good blog post at Inside Higher Ed today about the struggle between commitment to a particular place and the realities of the academic job climate. Dana Campbell writes that she and her husband (both from the West Coast) assumed that their time on the East Coast would be temporary, and that even their faculty appointments in Maryland would be short. She continues:

And now, we’ve lived here for 10 years. Still I consider myself a Californian, and I have a hard time believing that my daughters consider themselves Marylanders. We still keep our eyes out for opportunities nearer to “home”, but on top of the slim number of job openings with huge numbers of applicants, we now have the constraint that uprooting our family and leaving our “empire” – the home we’ve built, friends, our family life with kids as we know it, our jobs, and places in a vibrant university – requires a seriously upward move to a great location, great job, great schools. The scales, once so heavily tipped in favor of the west coast, now have the weights of our growing roots on the other side – although the desire to move back to our families remains strong.

Local community and “rootedness” are strong values of mine – I very well might not have taken my current position with ESN if I had not been able to stay in Northern Kentucky. Wendell Berry and Eugene Peterson have both influenced me on these issues. (Berry, meanwhile, sees a commitment to the local community as a potential path to saving the university from its current crisis of mission. I wonder, how strongly will academics commit to their local communities when so few of them have attachments to them?)

Anyway, the blog post is worth the read. What are your thoughts about place, community, and the academic life?

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Micheal Hickerson

The former Associate Director for the Emerging Scholars Network, Micheal lives in Cincinnati with his wife and three children and works as a web manager for a national storage and organization company. He writes about work, vocation, and finding meaning in what you do at No Small Actors.

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