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Opinion: Doctors Without Borders

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Earning a doctorate is an outstanding accomplishment. This high level of expertise and knowledge is something that I feel all who consider themselves scholars should strive for.

There are many different ways to express knowledge and what is considered “academic” is also evolving. The borders that draw the line between what is knowledge and what is non-knowledge are becoming less relevant. For this reason, a doctoral candidate like A.D. Carson is not only interesting, but also important to the evolution of knowledge.

Carson is a candidate for a doctorate in rhetorics, mass communication, and information design at Clemson University. For those that have a conservative view of what is academic and what is not, Carson is far from orthodox. You see, instead of doing a traditional dissertation, Carson has produced a 34-song hip-hop album.

The album "Owing My Masters: The Rhetorics of Rhymes and Revolution" is Carson employing all of his language and communication skills to take the raw, street mentality of rap to intelligently articulate complex points of view on justice, economics, identity and more.

The reason I find this album and projects like this so compelling is because it pushes our perceptions of academia and knowledge outward. As we push outward, the limits of what can be discovered and expressed moves swiftly towards infinity. Ideas that were once unimaginable like anti-matter and human consciousness are now being explored and proven by methods that in some capacity are unorthodox.

The door is opening for explorations into different topics and mediums.

In the years to come, someone could use a video game or a well-designed sneaker as their dissertation. These ideas seem silly when suggested, but the point is that anything is possible and that is exciting.

As an academic myself, new knowledge is exciting. It would be a disservice to limit the information that can be spread to only what we view as traditional.

In society tradition is nice, but as time progresses, traditions change. Some are kept, others are cast away, but more importantly new ones are created and added. The creating and adding is what Carson and many others are doing to our academic tradition.

There need to be individuals like this that have different ways of expressing what they know. Many great contributions to the arts, sciences, and society overall have come from individuals who at the time were considered unorthodox.

Orthodox thinking would not have produced the works of greats like Picasso, Hendrix, and Walt Whitman. The inspiration that these people and people like them would also be lost to the orthodox.

The world needs its southpaws; it needs people that don't just think outside the box (pardon the cliché), but instead create a completely different box.

I respect and admire the direction that Carson took with his dissertation. It is a direction that should be taken more.

Scholars should not be limited to a pen and paper; the only limit should be what they themselves are willing to present to the world. Our doctors have no borders. 

This is the opinion of Joshua Ogboenyiya and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the O'Colly editorial board. If you wish to contact Ogboenyiya, you may do so at