The Problem with Universities12 Apr 2012
I have had the following conversation a number of times recently:
- I want to do X. X is a lot of fun and is really interesting. Doing X involves a little of A and a little of B.
- We should get some students to do X also.
- Okay, but from where should we get the students? Students in Department of A don’t know B. Students from Department of B don’t know A.
- Fine, maybe we could start a program that specifically trains people in X. In this program we’ll teach them A and B. It’ll be the first program of it’s kind! Woohoo!
- Sure that’s great, but because there aren’t any other departments of X, the graduates of our program now have to get jobs in departments of A or B. Those departments complain that students from Department of X only know a little of A (or B).
- Grrr. Go away.
Has anyone figured out a solution to this problem? Specifically, how do you train students to do something for which there’s no formal department/program without jeopardizing their career prospects?