Posts Tagged 'Academia'

Academic Forms of Address

Chad at Uncertain Principles has a post addressing the topic of forms of address in academia.  Specifically, he asks how academics refer to their students in recommendation letters.

I thought I’d flip the script on this one, and talk about how students address their professors.  In my undergrad experience, I almost always referred to my professors as “Dr. LastName.”  This applied even to my advisors, whom I worked with pretty closely over the course of a few years.  I was never quite sure if and when I could make the transition to address these professors by their first names.  Although they signed their emails by their first names and had other students address them on this basis, I was always wary of assuming this level of familiarity.

Now at Minnesota, I’ve noticed that everyone refers to and addresses the professors as Professor LastName, or even simply “Professor.”  I’m not sure if this is a standard protocol (after all, Professor is a more exclusive club than Doctor), or if it’s just one of those things that varies from place to place.

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Science, Liberal Arts, and the Two Cultures Debates

This past Saturday, Chad at Uncertain Principles wrote a post about the cultural divide between the sciences and the humanities in academia.  His main point is captured in this quote (although I recommend that you read the whole post)

Intellectuals and academics are just assumed to have some background knowledge of the arts, and not knowing those things can count against you. Ignorance of math and science is no obstacle, though. I have seen tenured professors of the humanities say– in public faculty discussions, no less– “I’m just no good at math,” without a trace of shame. There is absolutely no expectation that Intellectuals know even basic math.

This clearly is an issue of concern to many in science, especially in the science blogosphere, and sparked much discussion in the comments to the original post, as well as prompting other bloggers to share their perspectives here, here, and here.  And if that’s not enough for you, check here and also this one.

I have also given much thought to this topic, and although I am a little late to this round of the discussion, I’d like to offer my two cents.  My perspective is that of a student entering grad school in physics, having just graduated from a liberal arts institution with majors in physics and math.  With this in mind, here are my scattered thoughts on this topic:

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