Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Monastic Life, Wikipedia, and Law Faculty Life

Recently, I visited New Skete, a small Orthodox monastic community in upstate New York and began thinking about parallels between monastic life and law school faculty life. To be sure, much of the research aspect of academic life verges on the monastic, but there is more to the comparison.

 The monks, nuns, and lay members in a noncloistered monastery focus heavily on their personal spirituality, but they also live with one another and interact with the outside world. One of the great challenges of that life is to get along with and grow with a group of people in close quarters. This challenge, in itself, generates growth. In like manner, members of a healthy law school faculty share a common mission and learn to grow with one another.

I also would make a comparison with the amazing collaborative effort that is Wikipedia. To be sure participants in Wikipedia, monasteries, and faculties have their disagreements. As for faculties, we all know stories of tragically fractured faculties, but we hope that the existence of a common mission, patient understanding, and optimism enable healing.

Here is a link to a review of “Good Faith Collaboration: The Culture of Wikipedia” (author: Joseph M. Reagle) appearing in the Teachers College record. Here is the website for New Skete. The New Skete community is famous for raising and training German Shepherds and baking cheese cakes. If you are interested in either of these subjects, you will want to take a look.


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