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August 16, 2005



Very interesting, and in a nutshell captures my frustration with academia. Very interesting to practitioners but more and more remote from the real world. Part of Paul Krugman's appeal, even if one disagrees with him, is that here is a serious economist (though his rep was hurt in academia for this) who communicates clearly and is able to influence the general discouse. That is what is needed, academia has ceded the terrain to thinktanks, many of whom are overtly partisan. I can't believe policy relevance is not the most important criteria, let alone a criteria at all. In the hard sciences, reality intrudes, one has to test one's theories, economics, political science etc... would strongly benefit from the intrusion of reality and all its messiness.

Abu T

Abu A...Nice post on the Walt piece. When I was in grad school I kept it a deep, dark secret that I was interested in policy issues. While many in academia complain that they are irrelevant, they are--as you point out--decidely reluctant to do some of the things that will make them relevant. A 750 word oped in the NYT, Wash Post, FT, or WSJ will have far greater influence on the policy world than an article in one of the top academic journals. As long as this kind of thing is considered unworthy by tenure committees and others, many scholars will have to accept their relative irrelevance. At the same time folks should not overreact. If you listen carefully to what policymakers are saying, you can tell that the academics are getting through in a number of ways.

Still, if the academics want to be effective, they should just chuck it all and bone up on the budegt process and bureacratic infighting. It worked for Dick Clark...

Abu T

John Penta

AA: Maybe it's bad to think this, but at what point does the track split? At what point does the student need to decide they are *either* an academic *or* a practitioner?

Anybody want to try to answer that? Is it something only those considering doctorates need worry about, or should young ones like me be paranoid and decide earlier?

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