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<a href=LOG IN (/account/login?goto=/blog s/worldwise/derek-parfit-an d-the-future-of-the-academic- workload/28688) (http://www.chron icle.com/blogs/worldwise) (/) W orldWise SUBSCRIBE TODAY (/subscribe/?PK=M1224&cid=MH1WH1) (http://www.chronicle.com/blogs/worldwise) Globe-trotting thinkers. September 21, 2011 by Nigel Thri闡觡 (http://www.chronicle.com/blogs/worldwise/author/nthri闡觡) Derek Parfit and the Future of the Academic Workload I have just been reading Larissa MacFarquhar’s very enjoyable account of the life and works of the British philosopher, Derek Parfit, in The New Yorker . (http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/09/05/110905fa_fact_macfarquhar) No one can but be impressed by both Parfit’s resonant and adamantine body of work and – well – his utter single-mindedness. I should probably declare at the outset, as a lesser mortal, that I am no particular fan of Parfit’s oeuvre (countless people – including myself – have quoted those electric passages on the self and death at the end of Reasons and Persons , but I wonder how many have actually read the whole book). In particular, apropos of the issue of moral truth that is central to the concerns the recent gargantuan On What Matters, I am much less vexed by the need for moral certainty than is Parfit, Still I doubt that anyone could paint Parfit as other than a remarkable thinker and savant. In any case, I think that there is a much wider issue at work here than such individual reactions to Parfits’s writings. Parfit’s life has been able to be intellectually uncompromising because he found the infrastructure – especially All Souls College in Oxford, which does no undergraduate teaching – that allowed it to be. But I wonder how much longer that kind of infrastructure will be available in all but a few universities. Now I am not saying that every academic is operating on Parfit’s plane and needs his degree of intellectual latitude. Indeed, for a long time wry looks have been generated amongst university leaders by the so-called John Rawls gambit which is sometimes " id="pdf-obj-0-12" src="pdf-obj-0-12.jpg">
<a href=LOG IN (/account/login?goto=/blog s/worldwise/derek-parfit-an d-the-future-of-the-academic- workload/28688) (http://www.chron icle.com/blogs/worldwise) (/) W orldWise SUBSCRIBE TODAY (/subscribe/?PK=M1224&cid=MH1WH1) (http://www.chronicle.com/blogs/worldwise) Globe-trotting thinkers. September 21, 2011 by Nigel Thri闡觡 (http://www.chronicle.com/blogs/worldwise/author/nthri闡觡) Derek Parfit and the Future of the Academic Workload I have just been reading Larissa MacFarquhar’s very enjoyable account of the life and works of the British philosopher, Derek Parfit, in The New Yorker . (http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/09/05/110905fa_fact_macfarquhar) No one can but be impressed by both Parfit’s resonant and adamantine body of work and – well – his utter single-mindedness. I should probably declare at the outset, as a lesser mortal, that I am no particular fan of Parfit’s oeuvre (countless people – including myself – have quoted those electric passages on the self and death at the end of Reasons and Persons , but I wonder how many have actually read the whole book). In particular, apropos of the issue of moral truth that is central to the concerns the recent gargantuan On What Matters, I am much less vexed by the need for moral certainty than is Parfit, Still I doubt that anyone could paint Parfit as other than a remarkable thinker and savant. In any case, I think that there is a much wider issue at work here than such individual reactions to Parfits’s writings. Parfit’s life has been able to be intellectually uncompromising because he found the infrastructure – especially All Souls College in Oxford, which does no undergraduate teaching – that allowed it to be. But I wonder how much longer that kind of infrastructure will be available in all but a few universities. Now I am not saying that every academic is operating on Parfit’s plane and needs his degree of intellectual latitude. Indeed, for a long time wry looks have been generated amongst university leaders by the so-called John Rawls gambit which is sometimes " id="pdf-obj-0-14" src="pdf-obj-0-14.jpg">

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Globe-trotting thinkers.

Derek Parfit and the Future of the Academic Workload

  • I have just been reading Larissa MacFarquhar’s very enjoyable account of the life

No one can but be impressed by both Parfit’s resonant and adamantine body of work and – well – his utter single-mindedness.

  • I should probably declare at the outset, as a lesser mortal, that I am no particular fan

of Parfit’s oeuvre (countless people – including myself – have quoted those electric passages on the self and death at the end of Reasons and Persons, but I wonder how many have actually read the whole book). In particular, apropos of the issue of moral truth that is central to the concerns the recent gargantuan On What Matters, I am much less vexed by the need for moral certainty than is Parfit, Still I doubt that

anyone could paint Parfit as other than a remarkable thinker and savant.

In any case, I think that there is a much wider issue at work here than such individual reactions to Parfits’s writings. Parfit’s life has been able to be intellectually uncompromising because he found the infrastructure – especially All Souls College in Oxford, which does no undergraduate teaching – that allowed it to be. But I wonder how much longer that kind of infrastructure will be available in all but a few universities.

Now I am not saying that every academic is operating on Parfit’s plane and needs his degree of intellectual latitude. Indeed, for a long time wry looks have been generated amongst university leaders by the so-called John Rawls gambit which is sometimes

<a href=used by members of staff who have been recalcitrant re searchers: just as John Rawls LOG IN (/account/login?goto=/blog s/worldwise/derek-parfit-an d-the-future-of-the-academic- took 21 years to complete A T heory of Justice, so, these members of staff imply, workload/28688) a lth oug h it may b e a s i m il ar s pan of time before their m agnum opus w ill t ransp i re, (/) the result will be a similar masterpiece. Well maybe. SUBSCRIBE TODAY (/subscribe/?PK=M1224&cid=MH1WH1) B u t l e t me b e c l ear. A ny un i vers it y l ea d er wor th th e i r sa lt nee d s t o thi n k a b ou t w h en the balance between legitimate oversight and making room for inspiration becomes oppressive and leaves people like Parfit out in the cold. There is no easy solution. Some academics have found a way which is to stitch together fellowships and periods at institutes of advanced study and the like into a continuous thread of opportunity which gives them the time and space to think and with no distractions over a concerted period of time. Other academics are able to keep an intellectual problem on the boil because they have the ability to switch on and off, almost at will. So distractions do not so much pass them by as belong to a parallel stream of life. And, of course, many academics still have the privilege of sabbaticals. But for the vast bulk of academics, clever use of time will become an even greater imperative. That is a real skill and some academics are clearly better able to capitalize on the opportunities than others — think only of the gender dimension. But there is one more thing. Some academics are clearly better at organizing their time than others. This is something that more and more universities are now trying to teach. Some will say that increasing workloads and other pressures make the situation more and more difficult and that such courses and workshops on efficient time management are simply a form of camouflage that masks malign management intentions but, in my experience, being able to manage their time effectively is something that very often distinguishes the best academics. Return to Top  This entry was posted in International (http://www.chronicle.com/blogs/worldwise/category/international). Bookmark the permalink (http://www.chronicle.com/blogs/worldwise/derek-parfit-and-the-future-of-the-academic- workload/28688). PREVIOUS (HTTP://WWW.CHRONICLE.COM/BLOGS/WORLDWISE/AFRICA-THE-NEXT- MARKET-FOR-CROSS-BORDER-HIGHER-EDUCATION/28691) Africa: The Next Market for Cross-Border Higher Education? (http://www.chronicle.com/blogs/worldwise/africa-the-next-market-for-cross-border-higher- " id="pdf-obj-1-22" src="pdf-obj-1-22.jpg">

although it may be a similar span of time before their magnum opus will transpire,

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But let me be clear. Any university leader worth their salt needs to think about when the balance between legitimate oversight and making room for inspiration becomes oppressive and leaves people like Parfit out in the cold.

There is no easy solution.

Some academics have found a way which is to stitch together fellowships and periods at institutes of advanced study and the like into a continuous thread of opportunity which gives them the time and space to think and with no distractions over a concerted period of time. Other academics are able to keep an intellectual problem on the boil because they have the ability to switch on and off, almost at will. So distractions do not so much pass them by as belong to a parallel stream of life. And, of course, many academics still have the privilege of sabbaticals. But for the vast bulk of academics, clever use of time will become an even greater imperative. That is a real skill and some academics are clearly better able to capitalize on the opportunities than others — think only of the gender dimension.

But there is one more thing. Some academics are clearly better at organizing their time than others. This is something that more and more universities are now trying to teach. Some will say that increasing workloads and other pressures make the situation more and more difficult and that such courses and workshops on efficient time management are simply a form of camouflage that masks malign management intentions but, in my experience, being able to manage their time effectively is something that very often distinguishes the best academics.

Return to Top

<a href=education/28691) LOG IN NEXT (HTTP://WWW.CHRONIC LE.COM/BLOGS/WORLDWIS E/HOW-UNIVERSITIES-CAN- (/account/login?goto=/blog s/worldwise/derek-parfit-an d-the-future-of-the-academic- BUILD-A-BRIDGE-BETWEEN-CH INESE-AND-AMERICAN-CU LTURES/28708) workload/28688) Bu ildi ng a Br id ge Between Chi na and the U.S. (http://www.chronicle.com/blog s/worldwise/how-universitie s-can-build-a-bridge-between- (/) chinese-and-american-cultures/28708) SUBSCRIBE TODAY (/subscribe/?PK=M1224&cid=MH1WH1) Comments for this thread are now closed. 4 Comments The Chronicle of Higher Education Login  Recommend ⤤ Share Sort by Oldest iris411 5 years ago Time management is not the only thing. The key is how to combine different kinds of works together. Concentrating on one single work for a long time is simply boring, not the way our brain is built. Lecturing one hour, writing one hour, advising students for some time, reading for another hour, etc. If you juggle them together, work does not feel like work any more, it feels more like relaxation. Of course, for those of you who can work at home, there's more varieties of work you can use. I find cooking dinner very relaxing after a whole day's research and teaching (but cooking is real work!) Do some gardening after hrs of reading is very rewarding (but gardening is real work, I get my veggies and fruits from my garden). Even folding laundry feels like a break (meditative repetetive kind of relaxation) after hours of grading. 3 △ ▽ • Share › John Parkinson 5 years ago As someone who had a career "outside" before returning to academia, I agree that good time management is an increasingly important skill, but it can have pernicious effects if not also tied to other skills and attributes: communication skills, team­working skills, project management skills, and so on. There are off­the­shelf training programmes and self­help books that address this well, but many that do it extremely poorly. The result can be a "me first" culture, exemplified in one of my favourite Dilbert cartoons ­­ a character comes back from a time management course, and rejects all requests for help and input on the grounds that "you're not one of my top thousand priorities right now." Time management is important, but it doesn't magically do away with all the usual problems of managing tensions between individual, departmental, organisational and social goals. 7 △ ▽ • Share › suujaan 5 years ago Hi visitor, I've create a blog about birds. You will get all about birds. You also get online angry birds, birds pictures, birds forums and so many. http://thebirdss.weebly.com/in... • Share › sand6432 5 years ago △ ▽ John Rawls may have taken 21 years to complete his "Theory of Justice," but he published a " id="pdf-obj-2-32" src="pdf-obj-2-32.jpg">

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  • iris411 5 years ago
    Time management is not the only thing. The key is how to combine different kinds of works together. Concentrating on one single work for a long time is simply boring, not the way our brain is built. Lecturing one hour, writing one hour, advising students for some time, reading for another hour, etc. If you juggle them together, work does not feel like work any more, it feels more like relaxation. Of course, for those of you who can work at home, there's more varieties of work you can use. I find cooking dinner very relaxing after a whole day's research and teaching (but cooking is real work!) Do some gardening after hrs of reading is very rewarding (but gardening is real work, I get my veggies and fruits from my garden). Even folding laundry feels like a break (meditative repetetive kind of relaxation) after hours of grading.

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  • John Parkinson 5 years ago
    As someone who had a career "outside" before returning to academia, I agree that good time management is an increasingly important skill, but it can have pernicious effects if not also tied to other skills and attributes: communication skills, team­working skills, project management skills, and so on. There are off­the­shelf training programmes and self­help books that address this well, but many that do it extremely poorly. The result can be a "me first" culture, exemplified in one of my favourite Dilbert cartoons ­­ a character comes back from a time management course, and rejects all requests for help and input on the grounds that "you're not one of my top thousand priorities right now." Time management is important, but it doesn't magically do away with all the usual problems of managing tensions between individual, departmental, organisational and social goals.

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  • suujaan 5 years ago
    Hi visitor, I've create a blog about birds. You will get all about birds. You also get online angry birds, birds pictures, birds forums and so many.

Share › sand6432 5 years ago

John Rawls may have taken 21 years to complete his "Theory of Justice," but he published a

<a href=steady stream of seminal ar ticles along the way, such as "J ustice as Fairness." I know because LOG IN (/account/login?goto=/blog s/worldwise/derek-parfit-an d-the-future-of-the-academic- as a junior acquiring editor a t Princeton University Press in t he late 1960s, I approached Rawls about collecting these paper s into a volume. I persuaded so me other distinguished philosophers workload/28688) with a Princeton connection to do this, among them Joel Fei nberg , Stuart Hampshire , and Gregory Vlastos. But Rawls demurred, saying he didn't wan t to take any time away from (/) completing his magnum opus. By the way, a few years earlier, in the fall of 1965, I was a fellow SUBSCRIBE TODAY (/subscribe/?PK=M1224&cid=MH1WH1) grad student with Derek Parfit in a course that Feinberg taught at Columbia University on the theory of responsibility. It was a marvel to behold Feinberg and Parfit debating fine points of morality in this seminar, and I could predict then that Parfit would have a brilliant career.­­­Sandy Thatcher 3 △ ▽ • Share › Subscribe d Add Disqus to your site Add Disqus Add Privacy About This Blog Posts on WorldWise present the views of their authors. They do not represent the position of the editors, nor does posting here imply any endorsement by The Chronicle. WorldWise Bloggers Ellen Hazelkorn (http://www.chronicle.com/blogs/worldwise/author/ehazelkorn) Ellen Hazelkorn is head of the Higher Education Policy Research Unit at the Dublin Institute of Technology and policy adviser to Ireland's Higher Education Authority. She is the author of Rankings and the Reshaping of Higher Education: The Battle for World-Class Excellence. Jason Lane and Kevin Kinser (http://www.chronicle.com/blogs/worldwise/author/jlane) Jason Lane is director of education studies at the Rockefeller Institute of Government and associate professor and co- director of the Cross Border Education Research Team at the State University of New York at Albany. His latest book is Multinational Colleges and Universities . Kevin Kinser is an associate professor and co-director of the Cross Border Education Research Team at the State University of New York at Albany, and a fellow at the Rockefeller Institute of Government. He is also a senior fellow for internationalization at Nafsa: Association of International Educators. Marion Lloyd (http://www.chronicle.com/blogs/worldwise/author/mlloyd) Marion Lloyd is chief project coordinator at the General Directorate for Institutional Evaluation at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. She spent 15 years as a foreign correspondent in South Asia and Latin America for The Boston Globe, Houston Chronicle, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. Nigel Thri闡觡 (http://www.chronicle.com/blogs/worldwise/author/nthri闡觡) Nigel Thrift is vice-chancellor and president of the University of Warwick, in England. Recent Posts In International-Student Recruitment, Questions About Integrity Persist (http://www.chronicle.com/blogs/worldwise/in-international-student-recruitment-questions-about- " id="pdf-obj-3-19" src="pdf-obj-3-19.jpg">

Gregory Vlastos. But Rawls demurred, saying he didn't want to take any time away from

(/)

theory of responsibility. It was a marvel to behold Feinberg and Parfit debating fine points of

morality in this seminar, and I could predict then that Parfit would have a brilliant career.­­­Sandy

Thatcher

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<a href=steady stream of seminal ar ticles along the way, such as "J ustice as Fairness." I know because LOG IN (/account/login?goto=/blog s/worldwise/derek-parfit-an d-the-future-of-the-academic- as a junior acquiring editor a t Princeton University Press in t he late 1960s, I approached Rawls about collecting these paper s into a volume. I persuaded so me other distinguished philosophers workload/28688) with a Princeton connection to do this, among them Joel Fei nberg , Stuart Hampshire , and Gregory Vlastos. But Rawls demurred, saying he didn't wan t to take any time away from (/) completing his magnum opus. By the way, a few years earlier, in the fall of 1965, I was a fellow SUBSCRIBE TODAY (/subscribe/?PK=M1224&cid=MH1WH1) grad student with Derek Parfit in a course that Feinberg taught at Columbia University on the theory of responsibility. It was a marvel to behold Feinberg and Parfit debating fine points of morality in this seminar, and I could predict then that Parfit would have a brilliant career.­­­Sandy Thatcher 3 △ ▽ • Share › Subscribe d Add Disqus to your site Add Disqus Add Privacy About This Blog Posts on WorldWise present the views of their authors. They do not represent the position of the editors, nor does posting here imply any endorsement by The Chronicle. WorldWise Bloggers Ellen Hazelkorn (http://www.chronicle.com/blogs/worldwise/author/ehazelkorn) Ellen Hazelkorn is head of the Higher Education Policy Research Unit at the Dublin Institute of Technology and policy adviser to Ireland's Higher Education Authority. She is the author of Rankings and the Reshaping of Higher Education: The Battle for World-Class Excellence. Jason Lane and Kevin Kinser (http://www.chronicle.com/blogs/worldwise/author/jlane) Jason Lane is director of education studies at the Rockefeller Institute of Government and associate professor and co- director of the Cross Border Education Research Team at the State University of New York at Albany. His latest book is Multinational Colleges and Universities . Kevin Kinser is an associate professor and co-director of the Cross Border Education Research Team at the State University of New York at Albany, and a fellow at the Rockefeller Institute of Government. He is also a senior fellow for internationalization at Nafsa: Association of International Educators. Marion Lloyd (http://www.chronicle.com/blogs/worldwise/author/mlloyd) Marion Lloyd is chief project coordinator at the General Directorate for Institutional Evaluation at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. She spent 15 years as a foreign correspondent in South Asia and Latin America for The Boston Globe, Houston Chronicle, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. Nigel Thri闡觡 (http://www.chronicle.com/blogs/worldwise/author/nthri闡觡) Nigel Thrift is vice-chancellor and president of the University of Warwick, in England. Recent Posts In International-Student Recruitment, Questions About Integrity Persist (http://www.chronicle.com/blogs/worldwise/in-international-student-recruitment-questions-about- " id="pdf-obj-3-71" src="pdf-obj-3-71.jpg">

Posts on WorldWise present the views of their authors. They do not represent the position of the editors, nor does posting here imply any endorsement by The Chronicle.

WorldWise Bloggers

Ellen Hazelkorn is head of the Higher Education Policy Research Unit at the Dublin Institute of Technology and policy adviser to Ireland's Higher Education Authority. She is the author of Rankings and the Reshaping of Higher

Education: The Battle for World-Class Excellence.

Jason Lane is director of education studies at the Rockefeller Institute of Government and associate professor and co- director of the Cross Border Education Research Team at the State University of New York at Albany. His latest book is Multinational Colleges and Universities. Kevin Kinser is an associate professor and co-director of the Cross Border Education Research Team at the State University of New York at Albany, and a fellow at the Rockefeller Institute of Government. He is also a senior fellow for internationalization at Nafsa: Association of International Educators.

Marion Lloyd is chief project coordinator at the General Directorate for Institutional Evaluation at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. She spent 15 years as a foreign correspondent in South Asia and Latin America for

The Boston Globe, Houston Chronicle, and The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Nigel Thrift is vice-chancellor and president of the University of Warwick, in England.

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