Effective immediately, my university is freezing salaries, canceling all searches, and cutting budgets 10%. I’ve talked about this before, thinking that perhaps Obama needed to include the type of cultural creative work in his stimulus package that FDR included in the New Deal. But at least two others have taken up the call. 

This is an excellent moment to begin to think about what we’re preparing PhDs for. And what universities need to be. 

But first, calm.

I’ve already listed some of the things I think Obama should pursue.

What are some things we can do here?

For those of us currently training graduate students we should begin to have either formal or informal conversations with them about what the future holds, and we need to be realistic here. Even the top tier schools aren’t going to be able to place every single student who wants a job. Students need to understand this without simultaneously approaching their studies and their fellow students in a cutthroat manner. 

We should also take this opportunity to figure out how we can serve much more of a public role than what we currently play. The idea of being a “public intellectual” has fallen into disfavor largely because of the paychecks individuals like Cornel West and Michael Eric Dyson routinely get speaking to “the public.” It’s become a marketing thing, used by some professors to augment their income and their presence/brand (in some cases significantly). Although I do believe that professors are going to have to do more work like this, I’m not talking about Dyson style public intellectual work but rather something different. Roland Fryer’s politics are not my own but he offers a potential model here.

Those are just two ideas. More?