Tuesday twofer for independent scholars

Next Tuesday looks like a very rich day for independent scholarship in the Valley. At 4:30 in the afternoon, the director of the new Amherst College Press looks at the future of open-access digital scholarship. A reception follows.


And at 7 p.m., the Jones Library, also in Amherst, presents a public program on independent scholarship. Several of us will be participating, and I know that all of us can bring really valuable perspectives and contributions to this.


Hope to see you there.

NPR report on adjuncts

All Things Considered has a good solid report on the adjunct situation this evening, Feb. 3.  The segment will (probably) run again in the 6 – 6:30 hour on WFCR; or check the website later.  There’s nothing really surprising in it, but it’s reinforcing and perhaps reassuring.

Academic shame culture?

A colleague in the American Academy of Religion passed along a blog post titled “Surviving (and Thriving) in the Academic Shame Culture.” The link is here and in the sidebar:

For those who need a refresher, social scientists distinguish between guilt (feeling bad about something you did) and shame (feeling inadequate in front of others). There’s also a distinction between success-failure culture (for example, ours) and honor-shame culture (traditional China, most Arab societies, etc.) (Fun fact on religion: the historical context of the Bible is almost entirely honor-shame culture, not success-failure culture. Does that clarify anything for you?)

Anyway, there is apparently a good deal of discussion out there about a culture of shame in academia. What’s your take on this? Have you experienced subtle or overt shaming in graduate school or faculty meetings? Have your professors or senior colleagues used shame as a motivating force? Are we expected to feel shame for not  being on the tenure track? Is academia really exceptional – that is, does just as much shaming go on in business or law, for example? Let us know what you think.

Conference program on independent scholars

The National Coalition of Independent Scholars is planning two panel sessions at the 2015 meeting of the American Historical Association.

One is a roundtable: “Practicing History Independently: From Surviving to Thriving.” The roundtable will raise the question of legitimacy for independent scholars, addressing such topics as: “By what means can unaffiliated or marginally affiliated scholars seek equivalent career status with the familiar academic ranks? How can professional organizations … help in building this recognition, which can in turn lead to more equitable treatment within said organizations? How can independent scholars seeking to return to traditional employment ‘keep current’ and otherwise help themselves?”

The other is a panel on “Independent Scholars and Independent Scholarship in History.” This session “explores and highlights the role of independent scholars in ages prior to when professional intellectual and scholarly activity became the almost exclusive province of universities.”

Well, I would change “prior to when” to “before” (Strunk and White live!), but apart from that, I’m glad to see these issues being presented for wider discussion.

Adjuncts and unions

You may already know about this, but in case you don’t:



In the meantime, adjuncts at Bentley University have narrowly rejected a union.

As you’ll recall, a couple of SEIU reps ran into us at the  Roost this past summer. SEIU is hosting an adjuncts’ forum in Boston on November 1. Anyone want to go?


A message from other independent scholars

This comes from a member of the listserv H-Scholar at h-net.msu.edu.  She included a list of regional organizations, which you can find at ncis.org.  Check the blogroll for other communities of independent scholars and adjunct faculty.

- As the “designated reader” of the surveys that new H-Scholar subscribers
send, I am aware that isolation is a big issue for most independent
scholars. But you need not be alone! In the late 1970s and 80s, many
independent scholar groups were founded in the U.S., mostly (as you will
note) around college and university campuses. Groups were also founded in
Canada and Australia. The aim of these organizations is to bring
independent scholars together on the basis of shared interests. In short,
to overcome isolation. The groups also offer a number of practical benefits
to their members. Check their websites to learn more about activities and
benefits. Or consider starting your own local group. [Editor's note: consider it done!]

Please share your ideas about how independent scholars can connect with
each other.Do let me know if I’ve omitted other independent scholar
groups. [Editor's note: consider that done, too.] We will be including all of this information on the H-Scholar website when we make the transition to the Commons.