Leg 1

Completed leg 1 of travel to New Zealand: Fargo > Denver > San Francisco > Auckland > Christchurch. Writing now from DIA. We never get away clean; I have a backpack of work along, including a dozen proposals I agreed to review for a major granting agency. My expectation is to be able to discard the printed proposals in Auckland, having completed and uploaded the reviews, and thus lighten my pack.

It is reasonable to ask why I accept this sort of professional obligation and carry it with me instead of just enjoying our travels. The usual answers come readily: you participate in peer review, often burdensome, as dues for membership in the academy. You want to be a player, get support for your own research, achieve stature in the profession, then you have to do your part. Peer review, for all its blemishes, keeps the enterprise reputable.

While executing this duty faithfully, I feel a necessity to do it well, with integrity, and to speak for the process. Neoliberal politics and ideological imperatives invade ever more spheres of the academy. Decisions, appointments, and rewards often rest not on teaching or learning or scholarship or discovery but on other bases. The proponents of disturbance do not like cultures and structures grounded in values they do not recognize.

Yet here I am, reading and assessing, sworn to uphold the values of teaching and learning and scholarship and discovery. And I declare, these values are real and good, and there are spheres where they survive and govern. Let us respect and defend them.

Thomas D. Isern

Professor of History & University Distinguished Professor, North Dakota State University

0 thoughts on “Leg 1

  • November 15, 2023 at 3:32 am

    A long day getting out of the US–plane broke down in Denver, had to deplane and board another. Running a little late now at SFO, but boarding right now.


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