Allegedly, university faculty are judged by their commitment to three main aspects of their jobs: research, teaching, and service. Of course, in practice, those three areas aren't weighted equally. Many universities place a much higher premium on research than anything else. Liberal arts colleges often put greater emphasis on teaching. But service? Does anyone actually care?
At least according to a panel I attended at the State Politics & Policy conference last weekend, the answer is yes. But it's complicated. At this panel, several political scientists talked about a broad range of work they do outside the research and teaching spheres, from political consulting to expert testimony to creating nonprofit organizations. Dan Smith argued that there was not a zero-sum tradeoff between such service and research -- his work providing testimony on direct democracy cases not only helps him generate ideas but also provides him with new datasets on an issue very important to his line of research.
Regrettably, as David Adamany noted, such service appears to be on the decline. He examined APSA presidents in the mid-20th century and found that nearly all had some involvement in politics or government on the side. The past seven APSA presidents have no such activity in their résumés. My sense is that political scientists are doing a lot more service than is generally known. We just don't write about it. I'm guilty of that. I've done quite a bit of activity with Colorado's Democratic Party over the past few years, work that has helped inform both my research and my teaching. I like to think of this blog as a form of service to the discipline, as well. But these activities don't show up on my CV. Why? Probably because I fear that they'll be judged harshly by some other academics who are also secretly doing service on the side but don't want to talk about it. It's a vicious circle.
I'm curious what people think about this. Are there tenure committees or hiring committees that actually look down on academics for their involvement with political activities like campaign work or consulting or expert testimony? Or have we just been socialized to believe it's inappropriate to discuss it?