What is the Jeffersonian Paradigm?

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As they went about attempting to lay out the new social landscape of American democracy and society, the founding fathers debated how society might best be structured. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were among the most prolific of thinkers to participate in such debate, and have left a rich treasure of their thoughts for us to examine. One particular such debate became deeply influential in how we have come to think about education and meritocracy today. In my new book I refer to a particular bundle of philosophical positions about education, which emerged directly from this debate, as the “Jeffersonian paradigm.”  Although it has radically changed over time and does not belong to Jefferson alone, this paradigm has endured across the breadth of American history.

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Advice for Phd Applicants, Part I: Should I Get a Ph.D.?

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I am very fortunate to work in a selective and well-resourced institution, and have many opportunities to meet amazing, young people embarking on a career in graduate education. I also encounter many interested (and interesting) people who just don’t understand what a Ph.D. is, how to go about finding a good program for them, or to go through what is a very competitive process. This is particularly important because these are things I also did not know when I started on this path. I’m thus setting out here to share what I have come to know as straightforwardly as possible.

With some reflection, I think that I may be the last of a generation of scholars to figure all of this out as I went. Even in the last few years, I’ve seen applicants getting increasingly polished, and so there is a great need to undertake this entire endeavor strategically. In this series, I’ve constructed some guiding questions both to get the reader started, and as a means to explore some of the bigger issues at play.

My plan for this series of blog posts is to cover the following:

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