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I think the one thing I'd import from my Navy days is DROP! Some people could really use doing push ups. It's also very weird that one of my profs thinks of PhD students as colleagues, so we are to call her by her first name. It is, apparently, not Doctor.

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In my field, it's normal for professors to consider graduate students, especially those near graduation, as colleagues. At this point, the only real difference between a professor and a senior graduate student is experience and the wisdom that comes with it. Thus, at this point, the most useful help the professor can provide would be career guidance, being a champion for their student etc.

 

When it comes to knowledge and research though, I would expect the senior PhD student to surpass the professor in terms of knowledge on their project / specific field of study. In my field, at this stage, senior graduate students are the lead scientist in their projects and they are the ones that will recruit other professors to be their collaborators. While they might not technically be "PIs" in the sense that they have legal and financial responsibility over labs, they would normally be the one that design the projects, assign tasks, and make decisions on what analyses to run and include in the paper etc.

 

Also, there is a strong culture of mutual respect and "not pulling rank" in my field. Both new students and professors realise that the only thing separating the two parties are experience and that is something the student will gain over time. 

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I think the one thing I'd import from my Navy days is DROP! Some people could really use doing push ups. It's also very weird that one of my profs thinks of PhD students as colleagues, so we are to call her by her first name. It is, apparently, not Doctor.

I'm not entirely sure what you're getting at with the first part there... but actually, all of my undergraduate math professors asked to be called by their first names, so that doesn't seem weird to me. Maybe math is just not as formal.

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I'd honestly be upset if I wasn't seen as a colleague to some degree. I mean, I'm not asking to be viewed as a senior researcher, but I'm a fucking professional at this point who has worked for multiple companies and has been trusted to make decisions worth tens of thousands of dollars. And prior to graduate school I did work under PhD scientists, nobody at the company called them doctor.

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TakeruK, Mathcat, Vene, you're obviously not veterans, so:

 

DROP! is an order to do pushups. It has many cultural meanings that movies like Private Benjamin, In the Army Now, or Full Metal Jacket, or anything involving boot camp or basic training can explain. It comes from the sensibility that pain will make you think. Someone needs to publish a drill sergeant quote of the day calendar.

 

The weird thing. It's pretty simple. In the military, a person has two names: their rank and their last name. You call people who are equal to you or beneath you in rank by last name or by rank, occasionally by rank and last name. Even good friends call each other by last name. First name basis is weird. You call people above you in rank by rank and last name, or rank, or sir or ma'am. You do not call them by first name. Ever. Not even those who are colleagues. I had a very good friend in my class at A school (AIT) whose first name I knew, but could not use because he outranked me. Even when we were not in uniform, not on duty, and just hanging out with the group, he was "sarge" (multi-service post). It is not only simply not done, it is military law (see UCMJ articles 15, 89, 91, and 134).  When a colleague with higher rank than me asks me to call her by her first name, it is weird. It's a perfectly normal military vet thing. The official term for it: cognitive dissonance. Believe it or not, universities are hierarchical in ways that are very similar to the military. While there is no law that requires a student call a professor by title, there's enough chikcenshit to enforce that cultural norm. Chickenshit is a military term, definition here: http://johnshaplin.blogspot.com/2010/06/chickenshit-by-paul-fussell.html

 

Vene, while I appreciate your rush to be offended on the part of graduate students everywhere, you're a PFC. You've never lived under the UCMJ panopticon.

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One, Drill Sergeant....Two, Drill Sergeant...Three, Drill Sergeant... Active Duty Army here. I'm totally picking up what you're laying down. 

 

As a fellow servicemember, I understand what you mean. It's hard to think of professors or other academic folks in a position of authority as peers. 

 

How goes it in Zoomie Land? I was Navy, my spouse was Army for a while, 11B, LRRP, went to Desert Storm with the Big Red One, spent the rest of his career with the Arctic Light before cancer kept him from shipping out to SF Q school. He says to keep all of your sick call slips. Jungle rot is 10% from the VA, for example.

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It goes great! Air Force has it good and I don't mind taking advantage of their amenities. I rue the day that I'll actually have to go back to Army housing & facilities. I'm getting spoiled here.

 

I was with the 82nd for a while before I went to the dark side and started working space operations stuff. Good to know about the sick call! Hopefully your husbands alright!

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I am definitely not a veteran but I am familiar with military culture (although Canadian). I was part of the Royal Canadian Air Cadets for all of my teenage years, which is a youth program run by Canadian Forces personnel. In the summers, we go on course at a military base to get some specific training. Just to be absolutely clear, I have a ton of respect for veterans and active duty personnel from all nations, and I am not saying we shared a lot of the same experience, but I think I did understand what you were getting at with respect to discipline and deportment.

 

In cadets, respect of authority is absolutely important. If a NCO or officer walked into a classroom, a cadet near the front would immediately call the room to attention. Everyone was "sir", "ma'am" or their rank and last name. My superiors knew they could rely on me to carry out their orders and when I became an NCO, I knew that those below me will get their job done. We all took pride in pushing ourselves to our limit and improving our ability.

 

And all of this is very important in cadets. We were a youth program so we obviously have no combat training or anything like that. But we worked with aircraft, conducted field training exercises in the wilderness, and a lot of fun and educational stuff that required a lot of cooperation and a structure to get things done. So I think that environment is one where the military professionalism is important. And part of it is just tradition too.

 

However, I don't think this transfers very well to the academic world. I think the military world is one where a small group of people thrive and the rest don't do as well. At least in cadets, you need to be disciplined, focussed, assertive, and be able to make timely decisions in order to succeed. In my squadron, I notice that the shy kids that are quiet and don't answer questions or the ones that cannot remain focussed on a task generally do not do very well, despite their actual ability. 

 

But these traits are not as important in academia, and if we try to force the military paradigm on academics, I think we are going to lose a lot of bright minds. I just wanted to point out that academia is a very different world. And just like moving from any one workforce to another, the transition might be tough at first, but if you are serious about the new workforce, it is important to adapt and overcome these new challenges.

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But these traits are not as important in academia, and if we try to force the military paradigm on academics, I think we are going to lose a lot of bright minds.

 

this is ridiculously true. the importance of being able to disagree (sometimes vocally) with your 'superiors' in academia is what fosters worthwhile dialogue and creativity. university departments need to be flexible enough to accommodate people with opposing ideas in order to benefit from diversity... and i'm not sure pluralism of ideas is something that the military values (chain of command, etc.)

 

with my advisor one of the things he likes the most about our labs (and encourages it) is to disagree with him and among ourselves so we can debate what we're doing and learn to see things from a different angle. if we added all this 'doctor' and 'calling people by their lastnames' it would just be... i dunno, super weird.

 

and no, i'm no veteran whatsoever. WAY too free-spirited for that ;-) 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Spouse is Navy and a war veteran (although he has no problem with using first names within appropriate contexts, possibly due to being somebody who had years of professional civilian experience  prior to enlisting).  I definitely agree that the military paradigm as I have observed it from a spousal standpoint does not really fit in an academic setting.

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Having obviously not partaken in graduate studies at this point, I feel that most of these initial dismassals of military ethics/attributes being valuable torwards the academic paradigm is really based on a skin-deep understanding of what the military is and the values they embrace. 

 

While you're correct that the military values and promotes outwardly confident leaders and discourages the outwards insubordination (or disagreement) of orders given, there is a distinct emphasis on establishing and displaying competence in one's job or career field. As an institution, I would argue that the military has done more with less than the general lot of academia in educating/training individuals to preform a job. Universities are able to establish their own admissions standards and be more selective with whom they choose to allow into their institutions than then the Army. As such, the Army has learned to train to the lowest common denominator, while simultaneously recognizing and promoting those more quickly that are able to establish competence and the ability to teach those skills to others. The ability to learn one's career AND the ability to develop others to learn it is HIGHLY prized in the military profession. I would argue that this emphasis would be hard to find in most undergraduate institutions. 

 

As an Officer, professional development for myself and others within the organization that I lead is actually evaluated. Once I graduate with my Bachelors degree (with a minor in Military Science), it is acknowledged that I have now met the bare minimum for commisioning. I'm then sent for another 4-12 months of schooling prior to actually executing my first assignment, and am expected to attend another 6-12 months of school for (almost) each subsequent promotion. In the mean time, I am expected to study the art of war and leadership and to teach these ethics to my subordinates. Additionally, I am expected to continue my civilian education in pursuit of a Masters Degree (a verifiable discriminator for promotions to the rank of Major and beyond). Most units have "book clubs" or reading programs that require the reading of a common book, an essay on some thoughts about the report, and a discussion of the applications to our profession. As a young Lieutenant, my Squadron Commander arranged for a Cambridge professor to come lead a week-long seminar on the ethics and implications of counter-insurgency warfare. I've listened to David Kilcullen preach and have written 30-page monographs during my military education courses. Presently, I've been selected for a program where the military fully-funds my attendance to earn a Masters Degree at a civilian education program while I retain all pay and benefits. I'm essentially being paid to earn a free graduate degree. 

 

This is all said to prove the point that while the formalities associated with the military may be not be appropiate in a civilian academic setting, the paradigm of military experience may very well be a great fit. 

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The_Space_Cowboy, that was very well said and I completely agree with everything you say there. Again, I don't have reserve or regular force military service experience but I am familiar with the culture. In addition, my Canadian graduate program has a lot of connections with the Astronomy graduate research program at Canada's Military College. I've spent time on that campus, taken courses and worked alongside fellow graduate students who are also reserve officers. In addition, almost of my leadership, instructional, stress/time management abilities I rely on today come from my cadet training, which was delivered by reserve and full time Canadian Forces personnel.

 

From these experiences, I completely agree with you that the military does an excellent job training people to become excellent learners, teachers, and leaders. 

 

However, I don't think this is the complete military paradigm. For example, everything I've learned about the chain of command and respect for authority does not fit well in the North American academic setting.

 

I'm going to provide some examples where I feel that academia conflicts with this part of the military paradigm. However, as I said above, since I am not part of the military community, perhaps I am wrong about it and please do correct me:

 

I've called my professors by their first name since my second year of undergrad. Academics are encouraged to challenge each other (both peers and superiors) to ensure the best quality of ideas emerge. In the end, it is not your rank or experience that matters, but only the validity of your ideas. Professors start treating graduate students as peers soon after enrollment. After a few years, graduate students are expected to be the expert on their topic in their department/institution. Professors will turn to graduate students for advice and expertise and this won't be a sign of weakness. Senior graduate students, without PhDs, sometimes are asked to peer-review papers submitted to journals by established professors. Graduate students often chair conference talk sessions, having authority to cut off professors who go over the time limit and direct the discussion away from professors or other PhDs who are dominating the question period. And finally, graduate students and postdocs often sit on grant review panels that decide whether or not professors get grant money to do their work. All this is meant to show that once you start establishing yourself as a researcher, you are now a peer of the academic community. It doesn't matter what your title or degree is.

 

In short, I think the only real place where the North American academic paradigm and the military paradigm are in conflict is the way authority is established. In the military, authority has a very clear structure and there are orders that describe who you would report to and who would report to you. In academia, there is still an order to authority. However, it has nothing to do with rank or position, but everything to do with experience and expertise. 

 

So, in my opinion, as long as we don't conflate titles like "Professor" or "Doctor" with actual rank/authority, the military paradigm works pretty well. Again, from my limited experience, when you're new in the military, you're just there to soak everything in, learn as much as you can, and not screw up. When you first start grad school, it's the same way. Once in awhile, a new grad student (who might have been a very good undergraduate) comes in and acts like they know everything. Eventually, it catches up with them, they will screw up and they will look foolish and hopefully learn from that. So like The_Space_Cowboy said, it's the formalities that don't really fit, but the professionalism will be an asset!

 

And finally, some people might say that "formalities" are trivial and I would disagree. Even tiny things like the way we address each other in academia changes the environment in which we work. In academia, graduate students move from being simply "students" to becoming peers/colleagues and by addressing each other on the same level, it helps establish this transition. In addition, as I said above, "rank" and titles/positions do not matter much in North American academia, only expertise does, so I think removing rank/titles from everyday usage helps eliminate the idea that "prestigious title = more correct" and encourages more collegial conversations and discussions. Of course, fancy titles are still used in slightly formal settings, or when you want to add some pomp and ceremony, such as introducing an invited speaker/lecturer, or at special ceremonies!

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  • 2 weeks later...

I think the one thing I'd import from my Navy days is DROP! Some people could really use doing push ups. It's also very weird that one of my profs thinks of PhD students as colleagues, so we are to call her by her first name. It is, apparently, not Doctor.

I have a diffcult time calling professors and even my higher ranking colleagues at work by their first name.  I guess once a squid, always a squid.  The thing is, I work in a high profile department and constantly deal with the highest ranking administrators, so I'm constantly showing deference, it's just habit. Some of them insists that everyone call them their first name, but others really get off on titles and formalities.

Edited by Chiqui74
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I find this whole thread a bit offensive. Just being ex-military doesn't give you some special knowledge about how to relate to people, and sure as heck doesn't give you the right to insult others or assume that they are something lesser than you. Just as I have a problem with people in the academy who look down on military members and vets, I find some of the posts here are pretty dismissive of those who have not served. This idea that grad students who aren't vets need to do pushups to learn how to respect professors is either an insult to their discipline or their professionalism.

 

I've worked for and with vets, had employees who were vets, sponsored plebes at the USNA and hung out with active duty military officers. I understand that it's an adjustment to seeing people as equals regardless of rank, but your comments here are just rude.

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I find this whole thread a bit offensive. Just being ex-military doesn't give you some special knowledge about how to relate to people, and sure as heck doesn't give you the right to insult others or assume that they are something lesser than you. Just as I have a problem with people in the academy who look down on military members and vets, I find some of the posts here are pretty dismissive of those who have not served. This idea that grad students who aren't vets need to do pushups to learn how to respect professors is either an insult to their discipline or their professionalism.

 

I've worked for and with vets, had employees who were vets, sponsored plebes at the USNA and hung out with active duty military officers. I understand that it's an adjustment to seeing people as equals regardless of rank, but your comments here are just rude.

If you don't understand the culture, then keep scrolling. Take your butt hurt to another thread.

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It goes great! Air Force has it good and I don't mind taking advantage of their amenities. I rue the day that I'll actually have to go back to Army housing & facilities. I'm getting spoiled here.

 

I was with the 82nd for a while before I went to the dark side and started working space operations stuff. Good to know about the sick call! Hopefully your husbands alright!

When were you at Bragg? Just curious. I'm taking up residence (or should we say "escaping") Fayettenam right now. My husband is stationed here, but we live off post.

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If you don't understand the culture, then keep scrolling. Take your butt hurt to another thread.

I understand the culture just fine, I simply feel like saying that people in the academy need to do push ups to learn respect is both offensive and simplistic. I'm also a bit surprised that anyone pursuing an advanced degree would consider the term "butt hurt" appropriate in conversation.

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I understand the culture just fine, I simply feel like saying that people in the academy need to do push ups to learn respect is both offensive and simplistic. I'm also a bit surprised that anyone pursuing an advanced degree would consider the term "butt hurt" appropriate in conversation.

Again, you're missing the point. It was a reference to military culture that went over your head.

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  • 2 weeks later...

When were you at Bragg? Just curious. I'm taking up residence (or should we say "escaping") Fayettenam right now. My husband is stationed here, but we live off post.

I was there from 2007 to 2011, minus a stint to the sandbox. 3rd Brigade, 82nd. I ended up living in Southern Pines for the last year I was there and it was GREAT! I'm hoping to go back at some point.

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I find this whole thread a bit offensive. Just being ex-military doesn't give you some special knowledge about how to relate to people, and sure as heck doesn't give you the right to insult others or assume that they are something lesser than you. Just as I have a problem with people in the academy who look down on military members and vets, I find some of the posts here are pretty dismissive of those who have not served. This idea that grad students who aren't vets need to do pushups to learn how to respect professors is either an insult to their discipline or their professionalism.

 

I've worked for and with vets, had employees who were vets, sponsored plebes at the USNA and hung out with active duty military officers. I understand that it's an adjustment to seeing people as equals regardless of rank, but your comments here are just rude.

Where are you getting this impression?  Just as I wouldn't presume to be an expert in LGBT culture when discussing the issue with a gay or lesbian person, I wouldn't expect somebody who has never served to be able to relate better than a veteran or Active Duty member when discussing the military culture and values systems. I've found that, in my experience, some folks can seem to have an unjustified inferiority complex when dealing with servicemembers. I've heard that this is somewhat of a byproduct of America's "hero worship" (though I hate that term).  I, for one, respect everybody's individual career paths and professions and recognize the importance of the varied professions as part a well-functioning society. Not everybody can be a Soldier, nor should everybody be, and nobody should feel guilty for a chosen career. 

 

What is frustrating is seeing members of society adopt an ever-increasing sense of entitlement, something that is the antithesis of military service. My impression is that the ivory tower harbors and fosters some of these feelings with the mixture of liberal idealism and economic privilege from a good number of the attendees. I think danielewrites was cracking a joke that some of these members could benefit from some "good 'ol fashioned military hardship and discipline" while also making a casual statement about struggling to adjust to a culture that doesn't emphasize deference to persons of authority.  

 

 

tl;dr: Relax and don't be offended so easily. 

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I understand the culture just fine, I simply feel like saying that people in the academy need to do push ups to learn respect is both offensive and simplistic. I'm also a bit surprised that anyone pursuing an advanced degree would consider the term "butt hurt" appropriate in conversation.

 

The 'butt hurt' comment is part of the military vernacular and language that you claim to understand. 

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