The question

I was on a dissertation committee yesterday at UNC-Chapel Hill, discussing Dave Bockino’s work on journalism education and journalism students in India and the US (congratulations on the doctoral degree, Dave!).

I didn’t get in my stock question, the one I always ask, so now I’ve copied it out from an old (2010) email to my friend Julia Sonnevend–then my fellow PhD student at Columbia–and here it is:

“OK, so the fact that [X] happens, and that [Y1, Y2, … Yn] can help us conceptualize it is interesting, but what does that mean? What is at stake in making that argument? What do we learn, what should we do differently?”

Fill in X and Y1, Y2 … Yn at your own leisure.

Julia called this “the Rasmus question”(which I’m kinda proud of) because I basically asked it every year at Columbia when we PhD students presented our dissertation projects, but really it is just me channeling the pragmatist philosophy of William James.


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