Friday, November 23, 2007

Take care of yourselves

I attended a celebration of life today for Dr. Richard Ericson, a well-renowned scholar of criminology. During the program, his wife, Diana Ericson, gave a beautiful speech where she talked (as she was finishing her eulogy of her late husband) about the need for academics and scholars to take care of themselves.

Academia, as many other professions, can really take a toll on individuals. Professors are expected to do research, teach, write, participate in academic life, train and mentor graduate students, write grants to fund their research, sometimes even manage the funds for those research projects, and volunteer their time in many ways, shapes and forms.

Burnout in academia takes many shapes and forms. Often times, doctoral candidates and tenure-track assistant professors take on so much work that their stress overpowers them. One strategy to cope with academic burnout, I would argue, is to cultivate friendships and relationships. Another one is to enjoy humour, like PhDComics.

It was thus very fitting to hear Diana emphasize that young scholars (and also seasoned professors) should be careful and have a balanced life. Often times academic fatigue leads promising researchers and teachers in a downward spiral. That's true for many other professions, but I seriously believe that academia is greatly undervalued. Thus, I would like to pass Diana's wise words (not her exact words though) on to you: take care of yourselves.

No comments: