Monday, April 4, 2011

Advice from Harvard

I had to sit in on a discussion by a Harvard Professor last week (Threats were made). In it, the professor deigned to talk to us but didn't go so far as to actually prepare something to say. Instead he had a sort of open mic session in which we could voice supplications and he would reply to them (Are you sensing my response to the whole thing?). One thing he did say (a couple of times) is that if changes are to be made in English Departments (And by English he means literature, blithely unaware that half of English department people don't teach literature), the "leaders" in the field (Harvard) will have to do it first and then the rest of the world will follow like imprinted ducklings. Not so, my Brahmin colleague. In fact, it's the other way around. There is no reason in the world why the "leaders," the ones with the endowments and the prestige, should make any changes. They are quite happy at the top, looking down on the inchworms struggling up the slopes. Change comes from the newcomers, from the proles trying to get ahead in the world of academe. Some upstart university way out past the Mississippi (where civilization ends) will create the first completely on-line Master of Science degree in technical communication. "Technical Communication?" quizzes our Harvard man? "What's that?" P.S. Utah State University, Logan, Utah, developed the first and still very successful on-line program in technical and professional communication.

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