Interesting observations, Robert H., perhaps summed up by the
metaphor "The best steel goes through the fire."  But what does it imply
for implementing social policy, or academic policy?  Deliberately harsh or
downright brutal conditions might be appropriate for training Navy Seals,
and tough ghetto conditions might produce the best boxers, but should this
apply in academia?  Aren't high academic standards and intellectual rigor
better tools for training productive scientists?

      And if these high standards are not accompanied by things like
support for family and other "work/life balance" issues, what are we
selecting for?  The most ruthless, cutthroat competitors?  Such people
might be very poor at the cooperative aspects of science, and so science
would suffer.

      Would we be selecting for people with "iron constitutions" that makes
them resistant to ulcers and mental breakdown?  Perhaps, but people who
might be "weak" by this criterion could have brilliant minds that would
make great contributions.

      Are we really in danger of making life so cushy for students and
scientists that they will grow complacent, slack off on their work, and
merely warm their academic chairs?  And even if scientific productivity
were to fall off a bit, is that the end of the world?

      I think that harsh conditions, such as those imposed by totalitarian
regimes, can boost performance in the short term, but in the long run it is
unstable.  People hate it and they rebel against it by passive/aggressive
non-cooperations,, voting with their feet, sabotage, etc.  The history of
the twentieth century shows this.  And smart, qualified people leaving
academia shows it, even if less dramatically.

     I think these are factors we should bear in mind when considering how
the academic life should be structured.


Martin M. Meiss


2012/4/30 Robert Hamilton <roberthamil...@alc.edu>

> I have had both young men and young women (much more often young women)
> in my classes who are/were single parents, working and going to school
> full time and raising children. IMHO they have a much better sense of
> the urgency of life, and while they are not the top students, the ones
> that get through do very well, much better (in general) than those who
> simply live in a dorm or some rental housing of some sort and do nothing
> they are obliged to do but go to school. JMHO again, but it seems that
> those who are given a tough row to hoe early in life, and hoe it, find
> the challenges of the rest of life a lot easier and get a lot more done
> than those who have it really easy, and this is as true of Ecologists as
> any other sorts of professionals. Having to both raise a family,
> including finding the resources needed to raise that family, represent a
> very common challenge in any society and it just seems to me that we
> academics, who are obliged to teach 7-15 hours of classes a week for 32
> weeks, mentor some grad students and maintain a research program at the
> most, have it pretty soft, with plenty of time for family and other
> obligations.
>
> Robert Hamilton, PhD
> Professor of Biology
> Alice Lloyd College
> Pippa Passes, KY 41844
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Ecological Society of America: grants, jobs, news
> [mailto:ECOLOG-L@LISTSERV.UMD.EDU] On Behalf Of Clara B. Jones
> Sent: Monday, April 30, 2012 1:11 AM
> To: ECOLOG-L@LISTSERV.UMD.EDU
> Subject: Re: [ECOLOG-L] Families in Science - Balancing your personal
> and professional life
>
> ...just out of curiosity...are some suggesting that people, in
> particular, women, should not be surgeons or pediatricians or
> line-persons for an electric or cable company or members of First
> Response Teams in, say, Ecology, or soldiers or on-call nurses, say,
> members of anesthetic support teams, or firefighters or crisis
> negotiators or specialized rescue workers, say, EMTs or fieldworkers
> studying crepuscular taxa or safari guides or owners of high-traffic
> motels or restaurants, say, a 24-h diner on Rt. 22 in NJ, or deep-sea
> "fishermen" or CDC epidemiological specialists or priests or mountain
> climbers or nannies or sanitation workers or medical examiners or Red
> Cross pilots or members of the US Senate from, say, CA or Oregon, or any
> number of additional tasks and, dare I say, passions...and *
> life*-skills...
>
> On Sun, Apr 29, 2012 at 6:02 PM, karen golinski
> <golinski.li...@gmail.com>wrote:
>
> > I wonder how a person who is regularly away from home from 6 AM until
> > after
> > 10 PM really raises a family? Most kids are sleeping during the "at
> home"
> > time of 10 PM-6 AM.
> >
> > It saddens me to think that people want to silence the discussion of
> > positive models of work-life balance. Just because people have to work
>
> > the long hours described below does not mean it is a good (or
> > productive) way to live our lives.
> >
> > On Sun, Apr 29, 2012 at 1:20 PM, Robert Hamilton
> > <roberthamil...@alc.edu
> > >wrote:
> >
> > > I must say that I find this conversation somewhat embarrassing, and
> > > hope it never gets out into the public domain. I have and have
> > > always had friends and neighbours who work 2 or 3 jobs to keep
> things going.
> > > Literally going to work at 6AM and not coming home till after 10PM
> > > working jobs at places like Walmart and McDonalds. Lots of people
> > > work
> > > 8+ hours per say 50 weeks a year, like say my Dad, and had no
> > > 8+ problem
> > > raising a family and contributing to the community. This whole thing
>
> > > is a study in extreme narcissism. How's that for a wet blanket!
> > >
> > > Robert Hamilton, PhD
> > > Professor of Biology
> > > Alice Lloyd College
> > > Pippa Passes, KY 41844
> > >
> > >
> > > -----Original Message-----
> > > From: Ecological Society of America: grants, jobs, news
> > > [mailto:ECOLOG-L@LISTSERV.UMD.EDU] On Behalf Of Jahi Chappell
> > > Sent: Saturday, April 28, 2012 10:07 PM
> > > To: ECOLOG-L@LISTSERV.UMD.EDU
> > > Subject: Re: [ECOLOG-L] Families in Science - Balancing your
> > > personal and professional life
> > >
> > > While putting resources into science, including ecology, is of
> > > course a wonderful, necessary, and valuable thing, assuredly
> > > supporting our own families with our presence, time, and energy (and
>
> > > societal resources) is at least as wonderful, necessary, and
> > > valuable. Indeed, as many benefits as flow from science and science
> > > funding, we know that having strong families and communities makes
> > > everyone better off, ceteris parabus, and having strong families and
>
> > > communities requires time and resource investment from everyone.
> > >
> > > Even granting the proposition that we in the US produce the "best
> > > and most successful scientists in the world", all accounts indicate
> > > that we certainly don't produce the highest average of "happy and
> > > most secure and successful families in the world." We have a *lot*
> > > of those, but alas, our median is likely much lower than our mean,
> > > and both are likely behind countries like those Andres analyzed. So
> > > much of what so many are lacking are basic needs, connections,
> > > support networks, and resources, something depending as much or more
>
> > > on good and participatory governance than new scientific
> > > discovery--we need more time for more participation outside our work
> and research, not less.
> > >
> > > On 4/27/12 10:22 AM, "David L. McNeely" <mcnee...@cox.net> wrote:
> > >
> > > This is not meant as a wet blanket, as I encourage family friendly
> > > employment practices for all countries and for all occupations.
> > > But, I wonder how those figures would look if all areas of science
> > > were considered?  It may be that smaller economies, and the
> > > Scandinavian countries in particular, put a greater fraction of
> > > their available resources for scientific research into ecology than
> > > do larger economies and non-Scandinavian countries.  Is U.S. science
>
> > > more diversified than Finnish or Icelandic science?
> > >
> > >
> > > David McNeely
> > >
> > > ---- Andres Lopez-Sepulcre <lopezsepul...@gmail.com> wrote:
> > > Since we're at it, it did the same calculation for all four
> > > countries ranked first in gender equality by the Global Gender Gap
> > > Report. All four, as far as I remember, provide generous paternity
> > > leaves that guarantee job security and can be shared between mother
> and father.
> > > ISI indexed publications in Ecology per capita (countries ranked in
> > > order of 'gender equality index')
> > > Iceland: 1167
> > > Norway: 1794
> > > Finland: 1500
> > > Sweden: 1361
> > > Not only do these countries do significantly better in ecology 'per
> > > capita' than the less family-oriented scientific powerhouses (e.g.
> > > USA: 650, UK: 660), but it almost seems that if anything, their
> > > ranking in the gender equality index is correlated with their
> > > productivity, not an 'impediment' ... safe for Iceland, but do
> > > remember that Iceland suffered the largest financial collapse in
> > > world history in these last 5 years.
> > > Even when this small sample and oversimplified analysis is not proof
>
> > > of anything, I hope it can change peoples' perceptions that
> > > countries that have increased social welfare, gender equality and
> > > more protective labour laws are less productive.
> > > Andres Lopez-Sepulcre
> > > Laboratoire d'Ecologie, UMR 7625
> > > Ecole Normale Superieure, Paris
> > > alo...@biologie.ens.fr
> > > http://web.me.com/asepulcre
> > > On Apr 27, 2012, at 6:43 PM, Cecilia Hennessy wrote:
> > > PERFECT response, thank you so much!  If we Americans could stop
> > > patting ourselves on the back long enough to realize that other
> > > countries have successful ways of doing things too, maybe we could
> > > learn from international example and progress more efficiently.
> > > cheers!
> > >
> > > On Fri, Apr 27, 2012 at 7:48 AM, Andres Lopez-Sepulcre
> > > <lopezsepul...@gmail.com
> > > > wrote:
> > > "...however, why should the USA modify the system producing among
> > > the best and most successful scientists in the world..."
> > >
> > > I would simply like to add a quick clarification. I struggled with
> > > how to respond to this US-centric statement. There is no doubt that
> > > the USA is a scientific powerhouse and I have wonderful things to
> > > say about my experience as a scientist there, which has brought me
> > > wonderful collaborations I hope last long. However I am not sure it
> > > is fair to compare a country of over 300 million inhabitants with
> > > another of 5 (Finland). In fact, I took the liberty do do a quick
> > > search in Web of Science for articles in the area of 'Environmental
> Sciences and Ecology'
> > > for both countries in the last 5 years. USA showed 204,414 in front
> > > of
> > > 8,119 Finnish articles indexed in ISI. If one thinks 'per capita',
> > > the USA has produced 650 indexed articles in ecology per million
> > > inhabitants, while Finland has produced 1,500. With this I do not
> > > mean to say that Finland is better or worse... but just to show
> > > that, when the comparison is done 'fairly', maternity leaves do not
> > > seem to be hampering Finnish ecology. Productivity can be achieved
> > > without equality and social welfare suffering.
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > Andres Lopez-Sepulcre
> > > Laboratoire d'Ecologie, UMR 7625
> > > Ecole Normale Superieure, Paris
> > > alo...@biologie.ens.fr
> > >
> > > http://web.me.com/asepulcre
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > On Apr 12, 2012, at 6:52 PM, Amanda Quillen wrote:
> > >
> > > "...however, why should the USA modify the system producing among
> > > the best and most successful scientists in the world..."
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > --
> > > Cecilia A. Hennessy
> > > PhD Candidate
> > > Purdue University
> > > 715 W. State St
> > > Pfendler Hall, G004
> > > West Lafayette, IN 47907-2061
> > > lab: 765-496-6868
> > > cell: 574-808-9696
> > >
> > > --
> > > David McNeely
> > >
> > > --
> > > M. Jahi Chappell, Ph.D.
> > > Assistant Professor of Environmental Science and Justice School of
> > > the Environment Faculty Affiliate, Center for Social and
> > > Environmental Justice Faculty Affiliate, Program in Public Affairs
> > > Washington State University Vancouver Vancouver, WA 98686
> > >
> > > Tel: (360) 546-9413
> > > Fax: (360) 546-9064
> > > Faculty Page:
> > > http://directory.vancouver.wsu.edu/people/michael-chappell
> > > Chappell Lab: http://agroecopeople.wordpress.com/
> > > Email: m.jahi.chapp...@vancouver.wsu.edu
> > >
> >
>
>
>
> --
> clara b. jones
>

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