Martin Krieger, University of Southern California – Academic Roadkill

Martin Krieger

Martin Krieger

No one wants to become roadkill.

Martin Krieger, professor of planning at the University of Southern California, discusses how to stay out of the path of danger in the academic world.

Martin Krieger’s current work is on defense and military policy, and on uncertainty and ambiguity. He has done social-science informed aural and photographic documentation of Los Angeles, including storefront houses of worship and industrial Los Angeles. Professor Krieger has won three consecutive Mellon Mentoring Awards, for mentoring undergraduates, faculty, and graduate students. Professor Krieger has worked in the fields of planning and design theory, ethics and entrepreneurship, mathematical models of urban spatial processes, and has explored the role of the humanities in planning. His nine published books describe how planning, design, and science are actually done. Professor Krieger has been a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences and at the National Humanities Center, and is a Fellow of the American Physical Society. He has received grants from a variety of foundations, and has served as the Zell/Lurie Visiting Professor of Entrepreneurship at University of Michigan’s Business School. He joined the USC faculty in 1984. Professor Krieger often helps doctoral students, as well as undergraduates and masters students, focus and formulate their research projects.

Academic Roadkill

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I have watched many a faculty member walk in front of an oncoming truck, ask, “What truck?” and become academic roadkill. You don’t want to follow their lead. Drawing from my book, The Scholar’s Survival Manual and a new book ms, …

So:

It’s the work that counts. What is your project? What is the Big Idea? Tell a story about what you are doing. Buried in the manuscript is the main point—will a reader notice it? In the Introduction, have you presented the main idea and explained it?

Organize, Draft, Rewrite, and then Submit—first to a colleague, then to a publication venue, and perhaps then to another venue.

Quality matters, scrupulous matters, getting it out matters. Audience matter.

Teaching and Seminars are the occasion to give away the Main Idea, or to find out the spearker’s.. Find out, What is Really Going On in the speaker’s talk. You have to be an active listener.

Now, You have a job in a bureaucracy. Do what you are supposed to do, and if not find a more suitable position. Stay out of nonsense. Realize that you are at a particular stage in your career.

You will need the Kindness of Strangers, even if you have a home-run dossier at promotion and tenure time.

And, You’ll need a Go-Bag, so that if the bureaucracy is unresponsive to you, you can find another landing pad. Grants and External Support allow you to do your work, and they keep the Dean away. Do you owe them, or do they owe you?

Just because you are in a fine position, does not mean you are worthy.

And, Likely another truck is coming at You. It is already too late if you are asking, “What truck?”

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