This week, my cohort had our orientation. There are five of us, four men and one woman. Two of us are married. One is Chinese and the rest are Americans. I am the oldest, then it goes 30, 29, 26, and 23 years of age. One of us comes from a psychology background, one from sociology, and the rest have business degrees. In all, I am impressed by the group I have the privilege of studying with, and I look forward to getting to know each of them better over time. I know their strong work ethics and keen intellects will encourage my best efforts. I couldn't ask for a better cohort.
The orientation itself made it clear from the beginning what our goal will be in this program: in fourteen years we should each be full professors and chairs (not department chairs, but endowed chairs). That achievement is completely possible, and it is good to hear our professors have set the bar high from the beginning. We had a great discussion that laid out what the program we will go through is designed to teach us (how to research) and where our focus needs to be (on topics that excite us). The classes are important for teaching us methodology and familiarizing us with the literature out there, but research takes precedence. I especially liked that our coordinating professor made it clear that he doesn't like the distinction between teaching and research: everything we do should be focused on teaching. Classroom teaching is focused on our students but research is focused on teaching (and learning from) our colleagues in the "guild" of researchers.
Classes begin next week. We will be taking an organizational economics class that will show us a lot of topics so we can begin to find subjects we might enjoy working on. We will be taking a class on research methods to help us understand the process of academic research. We will take a class from the professor who teaches instructors how to teach better. Last of all, but perhaps most important, we will have a colloquim where we discuss what skills we need to build during our time here and how to build them by looking at best practices and award winning materials. By the end of the term we should be well on our way to having our first two research papers begun. We will also have quite a few research proposals written for potential future projects.
In short, I am very excited to have begun. I've read over a hundred pages in academic articles this week, and I have plenty more to read both for class and because of suggestions by professors. I feel confident that I can handle myself so far, and I look forward to finding out.