Departmental Politics · Hilarious But True · Nature of Academia

The 7 People in a Political Science Department

#1 The stud

Of course this one goes first. He’s the one most likely to have graduated from a CHYMPS school and he publishes more than anyone else in the department. Problem is, he knows he’s a stud and is always looking to “move up.” Has a small but rabid following of students planning on throwing their lives away to academia, too. You’re suspicious of how much he actually contributes to pieces coauthored with students, but since he’s always flying off to England you can’t ever corner him and ask.

#2 The theorist

Weird loner. Probably smells like patchouli and/or failed dreams. Has been working on “the next Theory of Justice” for 10 years, minimum. Insists using technology in the classroom ruins the learning environment, so students hate his guts.

#3 The deadwood you wish would hurry up and die

He probably graduated from Yale or Michigan. He published a book in 1973, it did well, and ever since he’s coasted on that minor fame. Has the harshest standards for tenure of anyone in the department even though he wouldn’t recognize Stata or R if it bit him on the ass. Can be helpful if you appeal to his vanity, but only if he doesn’t have to leave his house.

#4 The woman

Be honest, you hired her for 1 of 2 reasons:
-To do the committee and advising work you don’t want to do
-So your department doesn’t look sexist
She’s probably entirely capable of excellent teaching and groundbreaking research, but you’ll never know because you have her meeting with new grad students and then heading up the program review.

#5 The media whore

Really, really wishes he was Rachel Maddow. Always bragging about the quote he just gave, but it was probably only to the local cable news station or Christian Science Monitor. You keep him around solely because the administration likes the Google hits he gets for the school (and because you secretly agree with his rants about Nate Silver).

#6 The one who knows the governor

Most likely to have worked on a campaign once, 15 years ago, so he’s always telling everyone about that one time he knocked doors before the Iowa caucus in the snow going uphill both ways with Susan Sarandon. He teaches all the practical politics courses, and students rarely understand his references, but they like the field trips to the state legislature so he’s decently popular. He doesn’t really publish enough to get tenure but no one else wants to run the internship program, so he’ll squeak by.

#7 The good teacher

He comes from a middling program, but consistently gets the highest evaluations in the department. If he’s under 50, also has a chili pepper on Rate My Professor. Barely got tenure because he’s only published 5 halfway decent articles, but he doesn’t care because he got to go to APSA for free after winning the campus teaching award. If someone in your department actually likes to do assessment, it’s this guy.

-Margarita Thatcher


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