so long, and thanks for all the fish

Phil Schrodt, a political scientist at Penn State, has written an epic blog post announcing his retirement.  I don’t know anything about his work, although I was on a grant panel with him once and was impressed by how wise he seemed then.  Suffice it to say his Goodbye To All That contains a lot to think about, starting with some of his thoughts about the practical state of political methodology and ending with him wondering if he will wind up in hell because of “the decades I spent as an enabler of the [Kansas] Ph.D. program, for which there is absolutely no justification.”

Among various contenders, I’ll pull a quote out of the middle: “I log my time, more or less accurately, in half-hour chunks. Fifty hours [a week] is a lot: most people I know who claim that have, in the absence of contemporaneous written documentation, essentially no idea of how much they actually work. Those who claim eighty or more hours per week are either lying or should be institutionalized.”

Author: jeremy

I am the Ethel and John Lindgren Professor of Sociology and a Faculty Fellow in the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University.

5 thoughts on “so long, and thanks for all the fish”

  1. The last chapter of Schrodt’s “Seven Deadly Sins”, “If I ran the university,” ( here) is well worth a read, too. (Probably the whole book, albeit for different reasons.)

    Here’s one of my favorite bits, in a section on problems the Boomers created for universities:

    “I have watched the post-modernists succeed where the Puritans, the Inquisition, Hitler, Mao and Stalin all failed, destroying what was once the center of the liberal arts. Nice job, dudes! Everything is relative; there is no truth, no beauty, no ethical questions. And if you disagree, you’re a fascist — the mean green meme as Ken Wilber [2002] aptly put it. There’s nothing more to learn, so what do we do with the remaining 12 weeks of the semester?” (Schrodt Ch 8, p. 10)

    Or perhaps this, on the replacement of tenure-line faculty with adjuncts:

    “When done inhumanely — the norm — it creates a combination of teaching by largely unaccountable amateurs and a class of bitter, insecure, and exploited individuals in a downwardly spiraling career desperately trying to piece together sufficient courses to pretend that they are still working in the profession they trained for. If they escape an early death by suicide or a commuting accident, they usually burn out after a few years, to be replaced by another generation of clueless institutional cannon fodder. Meanwhile voting for the [white] Perestroikan candidates for the APSA Council and spending a lot of time posting to Political Science Job Rumors.” (Schrodt Ch 8, p. 11)

    Regardless of whether you agree with the content (and for the most part I do), you have to give Schrodt serious points for style.


    1. Krippendorf: Schrodt’s chapter is easily one of the most valuable things I’ve read in a month. I read all 43 pages straight away, and felt like I was talking to a drunk Uncle: “No, I’ll tell you how your Dad really used to act in college.”

      Thanks kindly.


  2. This is great, about academia in general and PSU in particular. One could write a number of variations on this – university by university intersecting with discipline and gender – but probably not with such style!


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