On the one hand, we claim that we need & want creative problem-solvers, unconventional trailblazers, and interdisciplinary specialists. On the other hand, we punish people with unconventional backgrounds, ideas or career plans and we bar them entrance to the next career stage if they don’t fulfill (largely arbitrary) formal requirements. I’m constantly bothered by this, which is why I decided to write up my analysis and publish it as an opinion piece in Times Higher Education.
One thing that I’m especially uncomfortable with is the creation of silos, which this behavior induces. While these rather homogeneous silos can be extremely productive with regard to their subdiscipline, unconventional thinkers frequently are the links which connect and fertilize them, leading to results which are more meaningful for the broader society encompassing them. Yet if we disincentivize, and possibly lose, these intellectual cross-pollinators, we might witness dire developments in the intellectual landscape.