The Future of the University… Is Outside It

If I could change one thing about higher education, it would be forging a better connection with industry. In my program, the focus is mostly on research, with the idea being that all graduates worth their salt will obtain tenure-track academic jobs. However, there are lots of students (me included) who are more passionate about teaching or clinical work than research. In fact, part of the reason why I pursued this degree was to have some variability in possible career outcomes (just being practical with the economy in its current state!). Yet I have learned very little about the different types of clinical jobs available and what skill set is required for each. Without the PFP certificate, I doubt I would be in any way prepared to apply for SLAC or other teaching-focused institutions; my program has never asked me to write a teaching philosophy, and attempts to upgrade or improve my syllabus would likely be regarded as a waste of time.

I don’t know if this sentiment applies across the university, but I have similarly heard from others that they know little about industry job opportunities and wouldn’t know who to talk to in order to receive mentorship about these paths. In my opinion, not only should graduate programs be proud to see their graduates go out and apply their skills in a variety of settings, but they should value the chance to network with companies both nationwide and in their local community, in order to provide additional training and career opportunities for future cohorts of students. Plus, networking could provide new populations for research projects and be of assistance in securing funding to pay for these projects (e.g., if a clinical psychology student does a practicum at a federally-funded clinic and, as part of it, does a research project that can be presented to the clinic and the department and then possibly submitted for publication). I am just having trouble seeing much of a downside for anyone, except that it could be construed as “taking time away” from research.

Does anyone else in other departments and colleges have this issue? If so, speak up in the comments!

2 Comments

Filed under Preparing the Future Professoriate

2 Responses to The Future of the University… Is Outside It

  1. zhanyu

    I wouldn’t say it’s like that throughout the entirety of the university. It seems to be program dependent. For example, the geotechnical engineering program I’m in is affiliated with the Center for Geotechnical Practice and Research (CGPR), where the majority of student research work is proposed by the industry and also funded by it. It provides a valuable networking opportunity for students as well as give them a chance to have their research applied directly to practice. The CGPR started because a professor got tired of the tedious process of writing research proposals. The industry route has worked rather efficiently, and every year the CGPR members vote on research initiatives.

  2. Thanks a lot for this post, i really learning much more from you.

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