Thursday, May 18, 2006

Something New This General Direction Comes...

Five points to anyone who recognized that horribly mangled quote, used really for the opposite of its original sense. (Hint: IV 1.45.)

That is, rather than wickedness, a general goodness is on its way in the form of my article getting published -- well, my group article, I'm fifth author. Still exciting. The title is "Can Organic Agriculture Feed the World?" (The short answer is yes. The long answer -- read the article.) It's in press, meaning god knows when it'll be in print. Look for it in your next issue of "Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems" (which despite the hippy title is a very well-established journal, formerly the American Journal of Alternative Agriculture. ISI puts its Impact factor at 0.595, which is in the top ten of its category -- "Agriculture, Multidisciplinary"). This may seem extremely arcane to the outsider -- and that's only because it is. Sort of. That is, this is not the type of thing one would stumble across as a lay person, but it's not an out-of-the-way journal, and a story of this importance (not to be aggrandizing) will hopefully be picked up by the MSM [mainstream media]. For those interested, it's already been mentioned prominently in an article in the May/June 2006 edition of WorldWatch Magazine by J-acquaintance Brian Halweil.

The fact that it's arcane to the layperson is, to me, one of the profound tragedies (and flaws) of academia. I seem to be one of the few quasi-aspiring academics who view it as an essential duty to reconnect their work to the actual community-at-large. Or, perhaps "few" is misleading -- vanishingly small percentage. Lots of us do see this essential, but not the vast majority. As my friend Dan and I once commented, if Chemical Engineering professors were forced to explain their work clearly to lay people on a regular basis in order to continue receiving support, they'd have to kill themselves. Chemical engineering is arcane to chemical engineers. It seemed to be a truism in undergrad ChemE that it required a graduate level understanding of chemical engineering to understand undegraduate chemical engineering. That would seem to me to be a pretty profound pedagogical failure...

Anyway, future rants on academia notwithstanding, I'll let it be known when our article is actually published by giving forth a great hue and cry of wonder and delight. And, by adding a blog entry.