The Unseen University in Ankh-Morpork is a school for wizards in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series. The Unseen University is pomp, stuffy, and stale—stylistic features of many of our universities today. While wizards enter the Unseen University on Discworld, many earthly academics enter the University To Be Seen. In our universities they learn and contribute to knowledge, yes, but, perhaps sadly, many of them value being part of elite. In education are we really sending the right message with the use of personal titles?
On Discworld wizards are old, white men who fight for and gatekeep powerful positions. But very similar events transpire on Earth! Academics use personal titles, such as ‘Dr’ and ‘Prof’, in everyday life. Why?! Even within the walls of academia the use of their names suffices in revealing who they are to each other.
These titles were designed to strike awe. But, even in the present day, they are used to flaunt ‘Look what I achieved!’ This divides people through elitism. We all contribute to society in a myriad of ways outside of academia. Why separate us?
So, academics, do you really need your pompous titles? Give us one good reason why you should keep them.
And that goes for everyone else! What’s the point in revealing (or being forced to reveal on paper and digital forms) your gender and/or your marital status. [Sigh]