In a recent Scholastic article (written up here by Matt), Professor Nelson Mark from the Department of Economics and Econometrics claims that faculty from the Policy Studies department “haven’t done anything useful since they got their dissertations in the 60s and 70s. They’re out of date and not doing very much.”
Just in case your gut reaction doesn’t tell you that this childish statement is not only crude but also very, very wrong, I thought I would bring in some empirical facts (sorry, no obtuse models from me) about what ECOP faculty have been doing in recent years.
- Philip Mirowski has written or edited 6 books, published by Cambridge, Harvard, Duke, and University of Chicago Presses (some of the most respected academic publishers in the world, in case you didn’t know), and authored too many articles and book chapters to count (I stopped at 30).
- David Ruccio has written or edited 3 books, published by Routledge and Princeton University Press (again, two top academic publishers), and over 15 articles and book chapters, as well as serving as the editor for the journal Rethinking Marxism.
- Amitava Dutt has written or edited 4 books (with several forthcoming), and over 35 articles and book chapters.
In addition, Martin Wolfson is widely recognized as an expert on financial crises (“out of date,” Mark says…) and Jennifer Warlick, founding director of the Poverty Studies minor, also sits on the board of the Early Child Development Center in South Bend, and has conducted several research projects in the South Bend community (“nothing useful,” Marks says…)
These are just a handful of examples of faculty from ECOP, who are, according to Mark, “not doing much.” I’ve heard a lot about the maniac pace of academic publishing expected of top scholars these days, but I’d say that several books and articles since 2000 should count as “doing something,” right?
Just for fun, we can compare the ECOP faculty above to Mark, who, since 2000, has published 1 book and 10 journal articles. And if fun’s not your thing, you can try reading some of Mark’s recent publications. One, from 2006, is titled “Unbiased Estimation of the Half-Life to PPP Convergence in Panel Data.” Nothing screams “useful” to me like half-life to PPP convergence in panel data…
Now, in Mark’s defense, publishing in books and journals might not have been what was talking about – especially since by that metric it would appear that ECOP faculty have been much more productive than he has. So what did he mean? We can take the opposite approach and ask what a “useful” professor might look like. In my opinion, an ideal professor would be a dedicated teacher, be involved in groups or programs across the university, and maybe even do work that has positive impact on the surrounding communities. Let’s again turn to the facts:
Several faculty from ECOP have won prestigious teaching awards, head up or are affiliated with programs and research institutes across the university (I wrote on this in an earlier post here), and are involved with numerous community research and service programs. In other words, not only do ECOP faculty publish (a lot of) “useful” work on “useful” topics that are much more “useful” and accessible to students, scholars, and non-academics, but they work ceaselessly towards a better community, both at Notre Dame and outside of it.
So I find it interesting that Nelson Mark can lambaste his colleagues for being “out of date” and useless when many of them are working on vital contemporary issues that are of consequence to more than just the readership of the American Economic Review. It makes me wonder: If ECOP faculty are publishing more articles in wider venues, doing more research across disciplines, involved in more projects that impact underprivileged communities, and are still winning teaching awards, wouldn’t it be the Econometrics department that appears relatively out-of-date and useless?
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