Alex Pang, PhD, University of Pennsylvania
Dr. Alex Pang received his doctorate in the history and sociology of science from the University of Pennsylvania. The son of a professor, Alex was convinced that he would become an academic: "I was as clueless---and contemptuous---of the business world as you can get."
Five years on the job market---three as a post-doc and two as a lecturer at the University of California, Davis---led Alex to reassess his thinking. And in 1996, when an opportunity presented itself, he left academia to become the deputy editor of the Encyclopedia Britannica. At Britannica, Alex managed the editorial division at a time when the company was moving from print to electronic publishing. The work, done at a time when the Internet was exploding, was incredibly stimulating. It was, Alex says, "a whole career compressed into three years." This experience also led Alex to write his essay "The Journeyman Project," which discussed the experience of leaving academia.
In 1999, Alex returned to his native California to take a job at Stanford, teaching and working on electronic archiving projects. In 2000, he became an affiliate of the Institute for the Future, a small think tank of about 25 people. When the Stanford project ended, Alex turned to freelance work, then in mid-2001 was hired on by the Institute full-time. His main duties include researching and writing about emerging technologies. "It's really history of science, only about the future," he says.
Alex has continued to do research and to publish; his book, Empire and the Sun: Victorian Solar Eclipse Expeditions, (Stanford University Press) appeared in 2002 and he has written for a range of journals, including Isis and The Atlantic Monthly.
Reflecting on his decision, Alex notes that "the life of the mind is highly portable: research and writing can be done outside the friendly confines of colleges and university, and some of us can even become better scholars for having experienced the worlds of commerce and public culture."
Check out Alex's blog, Relevant History.
Alex Rossino, PhD, Syracuse University
Dr. Alexander Rossino is Vice-President of the World Future Fund, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating people about the need for a greater commitment to investment in the future. At the World Future Fund, Dr. Rossino heads the Global Totalitarianism Research Project, which studies authoritarianism throughout history.
Before working at the WFF, Dr. Rossino worked at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, first in the U.S. Holocaust Research Institute, and then at the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, when the name was changed in 1997. He began his professional career in the Photo Archive as an historian and archivist, a dual-position which he says gave him a unique perspective on the archival side of historical studies. While at the Center, Dr. Rossino also held a post-doctoral fellowship and worked as a lead researcher for a multi-volume encyclopedia the Center is doing on the Nazi concentration camp system.
Despite leaving academia, Dr. Rossino has remained an active scholar. Since 1997 he has published four major articles and a handful of book reviews. And in May 2003, his monograph Hitler Strikes Poland: Blitzkrieg, Ideology, and Atrocity appeared with the University Press of Kansas. The book was a selection of the History Book Club and the Military History Book Club.
Dr. Rossino decided to leave academia while completing his doctorate at Syracuse University. His reasons for leaving academia were varied. On one level, he felt frustrated by the disconnect which sometimes occurs in the classroom, where students often are not as enthusiastic or committed to the subject as the professor. In addition, however, Rossino was also concerned about the high pressure stakes of the academic life, which he felt encouraged scholars to forego a personal life for the sake of a career that provided questionable economic security in the early years and which can force one to reside in a less than ideal geographic location.