This Academic Life
Trade-offsThe dilemma: on one hand, I have many papers to grade for all of my classes (and independent studies), and the semester is rapidly drawing to a close -- which means that people need to get their papers back, both so they can see how they're doing and so that they can prepare for whatever kind of final exam or final paper I have assigned to them. On the other hand, I need to send out e-mail invitations for a workshop that a colleague and I are preparing for the next meeting of the International Studies Association; we need to get people committed to the workshop before they go and commit themselves to multiple panels and other activities at the conference and no longer have time for our project. Both of these activities take time, and time -- especially in April, which really is the cruelest month for academics -- is very precious. So something's got to take priority.

This morning the professional obligation won, for two reasons:
  • I told my co-organizer that I'd send out the invitations a couple of weeks ago, and also told colleagues to be expecting those invitations in short order, so I felt that I needed to carry through on those promises and let people clarify their ISA 2005 plans.
  • I extended the due date for the final paper for one of my classes from 23 April to 27 April, which means that if I get the papers back to the students by Friday then they'll have the weekend to process the comments before having to firm up their final papers. So the papers will get back to people later then I would have liked, but at least they won't come back after the final assignment has been turned in.

    And this is a relatively easy trade-off, because both activities are internal to academia. The tough trade-offs are things like "academic work vs. spending time with family" or "academic work vs. church" (actually, that one is disturbingly easy for me to make) or in general "academic work vs. everything else." Because being an academic isn't just a job for me, it doesn't really "stop" in the way that a typical 9-5 job stops. I mean, part of this is a job and does stop when I leave the office, but other aspects don't. And it seems that even the "job" aspects keep carrying over to other times and spaces these days too.

    It's hard to draw boundaries around a vocation.

    [Posted with ecto]
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    "Academia als Beruf," or, an occasional record of the various aspects of my life as an academic. Written by "21stCWeber," an arrogant handle I know…but I must confess that I do want to be Weber when and if I grow up :-)



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