It’s the final day of University Press Week and this year we have been celebrating the ways in which university presses help Raise UP a variety of voices and ideas. Today, the blog tour highlights active voices within the community and who better to Raise UP than Rae André, climate change educator and bestselling author. She teaches Leadership and Sustainability in the D’Amore-McKim School of Business, Northeastern University, as Professor Emeritus, and consults on integrating planetary sustainability into business school and other university curricula. She is also the author of Lead for the Planet: Five Practices for Confronting Climate Change, the first title to be released from our new-trade imprint Aevo UTP back in September.
Check out other university presses taking part today at the bottom of the post, or follow the blog tour on Twitter @AUPresses.
By Rae André
I was then Assistant Professor of Industrial Administration at the General Motors Institute, a corporate college known mostly to Michiganders and industrialists in need of bright middle managers. Now that I think back on it, I am bemused that a person holding that credential would be published by such a venerable intellectual institution.
In the introduction to that book – Homemakers: The Forgotten Workers – I wrote, “I hope this book will be useful in describing and analyzing a wide range of proposed actions, from action the average homemaker can take to improve her personal life to action that can improve homemakers’ status worldwide.”
And so it has come down: Having not looked back at Homemakers for many years (who can bear it?), in my most recent book I open with, “We hear a lot these days about the what and the why of climate change. Yes, it is happening, and humans are causing it by burning fossil fuels. Yes, it’s melting the Arctic and causing disruptions across the globe. And, yes, it’s accelerating… We hear a lot less about the who and the how of solving the problem…”
My latest book – Lead for the Planet: Five Practices for Confronting Climate Change – has just been published by the University of Toronto Press. It is the first book in their new trade imprint Aevo UTP. In it, lay readers and academics alike encounter leadership practices that can help them address the impending crisis of human-caused global warming. Based on social science and informed reasoning, the book invites discussion about the human factors that drive complex change and intervention. Check out the cover and the copyedit (by them). And the interminable and intellectually essential endnotes (by me).
Another environmental book of mine – Take Back the Sky: Protecting Communities in the Path of Aviation Expansion – was published by a university press analog, Sierra Club Books. (Now defunct.) And earlier I had edited Researchers Hooked on Teaching: Noted Scholars Discuss the Synergies of Teaching and Research (with Peter J. Frost). In these days of commoditized education, one might blush at its idealistic vision for a relevant management education. It was published by Sage Publications, a private press with a scholarly mission.
And then one year, I hammered out in three weeks (it was SO fun to write on one of the very first word processors) a Publishers Weekly bestseller that sold more copies and made more money than all of the above combined: The 59-Second Employee: How to Stay One Second Ahead of Your One-Minute Manager (co-authored with Peter D. Ward and published by Houghton-Mifflin). One of the reasons this book succeeded was that it could be slotted into marketing niches like “Management” and “Business.” Another reason was that it was very short. And, of course, it was entertaining.
Did I say it “succeeded”? Well, yes, it was funny (and people who were being one-minute managed needed funny) and it made the front page of the Wall Street Journal and it did make some research-based points about how to treat workers as human beings. On the other hand, it was simple. And what I can observe about all of my university press books is that they were not, indeed, simple.
Looking back on my lifetime as a writer, I can see that I have experienced university presses as havens for the interdisciplinary and the complex. In the introduction to my first published book, I wrote that “real people lead interdisciplinary lives,” and this is still a mantra of mine. Isn’t it interesting that, although stereotyped as stuffy and ivory tower and all that, academic books may come closer than most to the truth of our realities? And, perhaps, even to hope?
Herewith, a caution. Academic presses that take too seriously that truth lies merely in data and narrowly crafted studies will miss their calling. Although I can’t speak for other disciplines, I can point with assurance to the many management scholars who have bemoaned, for years now, the irrelevance of their own published research. Books included.
So the next time, if there is a next time, that some anonymous reviewer outside my discipline tells me that I should take a look at the philosophical perspective, or the anthropological perspective, or the Borat-in-the-universe perspective, I plan to do it.
To continue on Day Five of the University Press Week Blog Tour, check out posts by these other fine university presses.
University of Chicago Press
University of Notre Dame Press
University of Alberta Press
University Press of Florida
Bristol University Press
Amsterdam University Press
Bucknell University Press
University of Toronto Press Journals
Vanderbilt University Press
University of Minnesota Press
Harvard University Press
Columbia University Press
University of South Carolina Press