Another Sign of Academia’s Weakness : Curry Resigns

One of the most effective reasoned voices in the Climate debate is Dr. Judith Curry of Georgia Tech in the USA. Readers of this blog will have noticed that I have carried her views on the subject.Thankfully , she will still be involved in the ongoing debate. Her wonderful blog is climate Etc. Look it up . You won’t be disappointed. She discloses in her blog her resignation and details the reasons why.  Her reasons are becoming a more frequent theme by independent thinkers in Academia : the university is no longer free. Here is part of her resignation article:

‘The deeper reasons have to do with my growing disenchantment with universities, the academic field of climate science and scientists.

Wrong trousers

I’ve been in school since I was 5 years old. Until a few years ago, I regarded a tenured faculty position at a major university to be a dream job, and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

Apart from my own personal career trajectory and the ‘shocks’ that started in 2005 with our hurricanes and global warming paper, and the massive spike in 2009/2010 from Climategate, I’ve found that universities have changed substantially over the past 5-10 years.

At first, I thought the changes I saw at Georgia Tech were due to a change in the higher administration (President, Provost, etc). The academic nirvana under the prior Georgia Tech administration of Wayne Clough, Jean-Lou Chameau and Gary Schuster was a hard act to follow. But then I started to realize that academia and universities nationwide were undergoing substantial changes. I came across a recent article that expresses part of what is wrong: Universities are becoming like mechanical nightingales.

The reward system that is in place for university faculty members is becoming increasingly counterproductive to actually educating students to be able to think and cope in the real world, and in expanding the frontiers of knowledge in a meaningful way (at least in certain fields that are publicly relevant such as climate change). I’ve written on these topics before, I won’t belabor this here.

So why not try to change the system from the inside? Well, this is not the battle I want to fight, apart from any realistic assessment of being able to shift the ponderous beast from within.

Or maybe it’s just a case of ‘wrong trousers’ as far as I’m concerned. Simply, universities no longer feel like the ‘real deal’ to me (note: this criticism is not targeted at Georgia Tech, which is better than most). It’s time for me to leave the ivory tower.

A deciding factor was that I no longer know what to say to students and postdocs regarding how to navigate the CRAZINESS in the field of climate science. Research and other professional activities are professionally rewarded only if they are channeled in certain directions approved by a politicized academic establishment — funding, ease of getting your papers published, getting hired in prestigious positions, appointments to prestigious committees and boards, professional recognition, etc.

How young scientists are to navigate all this is beyond me, and it often becomes a battle of scientific integrity versus career suicide (I have worked through these issues with a number of skeptical young scientists).’

You can go to Climate Etc for the full article.

 

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