Professors’ work goes far beyond teaching the required material within their courses, creating curricula and grading papers. They also have to keep up with their fields by keeping up with scholarly work.
“We are academicians, we are in a discipline, we have a requirement to continue to change and to grow as experts in our disciplines, and one of the things that goes along with that is discovering new knowledge,” said Lauren Seifert, professor of psychology.
“We go out there and find new things and explain or develop a theory about something that we know exists but that we don’t understand, and then try to explain it, so there is pressure,” she said. “It is not always clear about what the expectation is.”
Seifert said that it is hard to write and at the same time be responsible for creating a curriculum for all of her classes. She said that it is difficult to write when she wants to because life gets in the way.
The pressure to keep up as a scholar can come from different places,
“As an adjunct I don’t feel immediate pressure from Malone to do research in my field, but as an academic, you always feel pressure, especially in this field,” said Renea Brathwaite, adjunct professor of theology. “There is a maxim—’Publish or perish’—that you need to get things out there and get things published.”
The main expectation for a professor is to keep discovering and learning new things. For example, one might have a theory and want to make it known, so one will write articles and later on write books to further explain the theory.
“Research is what gets your ideas out there,” Brathwaite said. “It gets your name out there and it really advances your career.”
“We’re expected to do scholarship, but scholarship can take a lot of different forms,” said Jay Case, professor of history, who published An Unpredictable Gospel: American Evangelicals and World Christianity, 1812-1920 in 2012.
“I felt like it was actually a call, something I am supposed to do,” Case said. “That’s mostly what I have been doing with my summers during my career as a professor. . .[I] focus on my writing and research during that time.”
Professors should always be doing something to keep up with their respective disciplines. It is important for them to keep discovering and teaching what they discover, not only through the way they teach classes, but through the articles and books they write outside of their work as teachers.