Short Course at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Philadelphia, PA
SC26: Unlocking Success With Failure
Jennifer Diascro, Susan Sterett, Lee Walker, Erik Herron, and Judith Grant
Wednesday, August 31, 2:00 pm – 6:00 pm
It is a well-worn problem we seek to address in this short course: the difficulties that women and men of color, parents and adjuncts, and students, faculty and practitioners, face as we seek success as political scientists. Yet, we approach these difficulties from a different perspective, one that calls for the examination of failures as the key to success.
As social scientists, we know a lot about individual and institutional behavior. Our goal is to use this knowledge to elicit our stories of failure and loss as a means of building a solid foundation for the many paths to success in political science.
Academics and the academy are like most people and institutions, preferring to highlight achievements and elaborate on good fortune. We do so with good reason. Our individual and collective accomplishments are worthy of great pride, and sharing them may provide others with tools to realize their own goals. But there is a sinister side to the attention that we bestow on our successes. We’ve learned to fear not knowing and to be ashamed of problems, making it difficult to situate them in broader institutional dynamics. So we hide from view significant pieces of professional biographies, thereby limiting – among other things – the broad perspective of individual and institutional error required to identify, redefine, and solve problems.
And, to add insult to injury, we diminish much of the work we do to ensure individual and institutional survival. We take for granted the time – arguably, our most valuable resource – we invest in supporting our students and colleagues in myriad ways. Again, then, much of what we do is invisible, which is devastating to ourselves and to others who depend on a true account of the paths to professional success. In our effort to be good citizens, we have skewed the telling of our professional stories, and distorted the dialogue that shapes the discipline.
This half-day short course will focus on unlocking our success – as individuals and institutions – by exploring the failures in our personal and institutional stories. We will do so in the context of the many interdisciplinary intellectual frameworks that illuminate failure as inevitable and necessary for achievement.
We invite faculty, students, and administrators to participate in this interactive workshop where we will develop strategies for meaningful work through the examination of individual decisions and institutional limits.