UGA to host conference on academic profession

UGA to host conference on academic profession

Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia will host a state-of-the-art conference on the future of the academic profession, titled “Wither the American Academic Profession? Its Changing Forms and Functions” April 25-26 from 8:45 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Meigs Hall.

Organized by Joseph C. Hermanowicz, associate professor of sociology in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, the conference is co-sponsored by the department of sociology and the Institute of Higher Education at UGA.

“Change in and of itself is not a serious concern,” said Hermanowicz.”But organizational structures and practices of universities that erode academia as a profession merit our serious attention.The implications for the advancement of science and knowledge are tremendous, as are those that affect the attractiveness of the academic career to the most talented people.The conference will bring together higher education specialists to weigh in on the professoriate’s path.”

Speakers at the conference will include: Jack Schuster, Claremont Graduate University; Roger Geiger, Penn State University; Lowell Hargens, University of Washington; Ann Austin, Michigan State University; Anna Neumann, Columbia University; Gary Rhoades, University of Arizona; Steven Brint, University of California, Riverside; Edward Hackett, Arizona State University; John Braxton, Vanderbilt University; Alan Bayer, Virginia Tech University; and from UGA, Patrick Crane, David Johnson and Sheila Slaughter.

“Professions are classically understood as bodies of specialized knowledge over which practitioners exercise self-regulatory control brought about by protracted training, restricted access, certification, a service ideal, and a code of ethics,” said Hermanowicz. “Academia may be understood as the most central profession because it is uniquely situated in society as the profession that trains people for all other professions and numerous other lines of work requiring certified education.Yet compared to just a half century ago, the American professoriate is increasingly differentiated on many counts. The number of non-tenure line faculty, for example, now exceeds that of the traditional tenure line faculty member.Scholars from around the country will convene at UGA to present papers on changes in the defining characteristics of the profession.”

Topics will include: socialization-the varying ways in which future faculty are prepared for the professoriate with different outcomes of success; tenure-the changing institutional expectations and organizational methods of evaluating faculty performance; reward structures-how to organize the allocation of positive and negative sanctions of faculty performance; and ethics-the normative, though contested principles that govern academic work, in teaching, scholarship and citizenship in universities and in society at large.

The conference is free and open to all faculty, students and staff and to the general public.