We need coalitions of the sane to lead discussions about what can reasonably be expected of academics, to recruit and promote accordingly and to mentor younger academics into a way of thinking that says: “Enough is enough. If you want to do extra, we won’t reward you for it.”
You might assume that institutions run by coalitions of the sane would automatically fall behind those run by further achievers. But think again. Universities vitally depend on academics’ ability to productively use their intellect, curiosity and creativity. In business-speak, ensuring a sane working environment therefore safeguards their supply of academic human resources.
A dairy farmer might streamline his delivery routes or negotiate discounts on milk bottles. He won’t run the health of his cows into the ground by demanding that they produce ever greater yields. But that, in essence, is what universities are currently doing to their academics. Fingers crossed that voices like Schell’s will wake them up to how counterproductive that is – preferably before the cows come home.
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Dr Bex Lewis is passionate about helping people engage with the digital world in a positive way, where she has more than 20 years’ experience. She is Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University and Visiting Research Fellow at St John’s College, Durham University, with a particular interest in digital culture, persuasion and attitudinal change, especially how this affects the third sector, including faith organisations, and, after her breast cancer diagnosis in 2017, has started to research social media and cancer. Trained as a mass communications historian, she has written the original history of the poster Keep Calm and Carry On: The Truth Behind the Poster (Imperial War Museum, 2017), drawing upon her PhD research. She is Director of social media consultancy Digital Fingerprint, and author of Raising Children in a Digital Age: Enjoying the Best, Avoiding the Worst (Lion Hudson, 2014; second edition in process) as well as a number of book chapters, and regularly judges digital awards. She has a strong media presence, with her expertise featured in a wide range of publications and programmes, including national, international and specialist TV, radio and press, and can be found all over social media, typically as @drbexl.