This is a blog about the positive aspects of an academic life, aimed particularly at those students and post-docs who are keen to continue in academia. In my view, the positives of a career in academia are not always stressed enough, potentially putting off talented young students and post-docs from our profession. This blog aims to provide an optimistic view. It also disseminates my academic work – on the use of science in policy and the impacts of agri-tech on rural communities – as publishing a paper or achieving impact is reason for optimism!
All readers should note that I write from my experience only and do not seek to advise other academics on how they should be feeling in their academic life. Academia is associated with hard work (although millions of people in the world have it harder!), pressurised environments, stress, and mental health problems – and I do not seek to undermine those academics who are struggling for whatever reason; indeed they deserve better support within academia. Yet, it is also worth sharing an optimistic view if that is your experience. Undoubtedly I benefit from not suffering the problems faced by many – as a white middle-class man, the statistics are in my favour in terms of making it in academia (and something that academia should face up to better). However, I can’t change who I am and the fact that I love working in academia.
For me, leading an academic life as an Environmental Geographer is a wonderful gift – offering the chance to inspire and learn from talented young minds, as well as pursuing things that I am interested in, often with someone else’s money! I remember one piece of advice that I received early in life – ‘if you go to bed at night and just think of one positive thing from the day, even if you’ve had a very hard day, then you’ll look back thinking that you’ve lived a positive life’. That’s what I try to do, but I am helped each day by the students that I encounter, and the sense that I am making a difference to the world.
If you want to share your own happy experience of academia, do get in touch for a guest blog!