Academic Professionalism

Feb 22, 2018 by

Michael F. Shaughnessy –

Every once in a while , George Leef sends me a very well thought out, well written piece on a topic of immense interest. I would like to call your attention to a piece by James Otteson which addresses what many see as a growing concern in academia. Specifically, there are often two or three, very loud, boisterous individuals who believe that it is their sworn duty to propogate or push or encourage some point of view.

Professor Otteson calls for more academic professionalism. In higher ed, scholars, researchers, scientists and the like all have a certain professional duty to avoid bias, to try to present all points of view and assist students in critical thinking and higher order thinking—not to push a certain left or right agenda, and not to try to indoctrinate or use their pulpit as a way to shift the thinking of undergraduates or even graduates.

Professors should not be politicians (and if they are running for political office, perhaps they should self-disclose this) but rather should adhere to very high ethics and professional standards. Certainly, there may be one adjunct who decides to use a class for some esoteric purpose or to try to sway undergraduates to a certain thinking pattern or set of beliefs.

Those in higher education need to have a certain professional identity- as thinkers, as philosophers perhaps, as scientists, and as scholars and researchers. They should have a clear understanding of their academic field of endeavor and they should adhere to an extremely high code of ethics- and try to present all sides of an issue and remain fair, neutral, impartial and objective.

Certainly there are going to be some emotional issues and feelings about certain topics. But in higher education, there should be an examination of all components of the issue, examining pros, cons, concerns and short and long range ramifications and repercussions.

I would strongly encourage, but not force or demand or yell at anyone to read the piece in it’s entirely and perhaps respond with one’s own opinions, values and concerns.

And I thank George Leef for sharing this and Professor Otteson for writing it.

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