Category Archives: ALFS presentation

The critical university

My other friend(s) said this and I have to make the point explicit in my talk: “It’s important to recall why higher ed is important in the first place, imho. Namely: as a site to cultivate and protect and project critical thinking about the burning issues in our world.”

ETA: My other friend said: “[S]omething that we face as a real problem writ large, is the fact that we have lost our ability to recognize the larger scope of history and to see what was done in the past, as neoliberalism has done an absolutely fantastic job of making the present seem like the past, in that they make what is now ‘common sense’ seem like the historical reality for all of history basically.

That last is key for my other article. The landscape has changed and we are told it has not, and old gestures are called new when they are not, yet when performed do not mean in the same way, and old language is used in new ways, yet said to mean the old things.

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Neoliberal culture

I’d like to read this McGuigan book, but I do not want to buy it, and we do not have it, and the next university only has it in e-format, and only for its own faculty and students, so the following university is the place. Note that that university is also the richest. Don’t let people tell you the rich prefer e-books.

It is important because it explains why neoliberal culture has managed to colonize us so well. For example we deindustrialize, but we get to gentrify, and it is cool.

Also on these matters: what is the common good? R&D people, applied research people, say that is what they are doing. We say that the production of knowledge contributes [naturally] to the common good. But in practice, we generally mean the good of the researcher and the reputation of the institution. John Wallach, at the AAUP conference in 2018, gave a talk on this, arguing that democracy, not “academic freedom,” should be a first principle.

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After neoliberalism?

Clarissa is posting on Wendy Brown who, as we know, is a major critic of the privatization of the University of California as well as one who shows what neoliberal values have done to everything.

Newfield, and my colleagues, want to reclaim the idea of the public good, and the public for that matter, and higher education as public good, but Brown suggests that ship has sailed and that in higher education, now, we don’t work to form an educated citizenry but human capital.

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Read and quake

According to the College Board, the published tuition and fees of private, nonprofit colleges and universities increased between 2007-8 and 2017-18 at an average rate of 2.4 percent. Given the growth in wealth during that period of the top 1 percent of earners, plus the shifting of financial aid away from the most needy and toward “merit scholarships” for the affluent, it is likely that college for the highest earners is actually less expensive in real terms today than it was a decade ago. The same cannot be said for the majority of the population.

Quoted from here.

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On academic freedom

This study explores the history of academic freedom in America through the focus of three interpretive models–the Gentleman Scientist Model, the Liberty Model, and the Professional Model–to show how the concept evolved over the past century. It examines violations of academic freedom, AAUP statements, and debates about the meaning of academic freedom to show how it remains a contested concept. It concludes that by studying the origins and changes in the idea of academic freedom in America, current controversies can be better understood.

That is a dissertation abstract, and the dissertation is fascinating.

During the Great War, the AAUP decided the concept of academic freedom did not apply, and condemned rather than support the many faculty dismissed for their antiwar beliefs. The Nation was appalled.

The Nation magazine criticized the AAUP report as “a serious disappointment” arguing that “By rejecting this principle, the committee, for the period of the war, hands over the keys of the castle to the enemy…” and “jeopards the very conception of a university” (“The Professors in Battle Array,” 1918). The Nation argued, “surely the university, as the home of freedom, should not go out of its way to impose on its members, in addition to these, other restrictions that are not laid on other members of the community” (“The Professors in Battle Array,” 1918).

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Quoi faire

Well, for one thing, if we are to have a state-wide organizing campaign I think it should be about tuition and its relationship to state disinvestment in higher education. Here is why.

State disinvestment is the inciting incident for this phenomenon. We can and should be critical of some of the institutional responses to that disinvestment, but this is the central problem. That disinvestment has led schools astray from their putative mission.

In the words of executive vice chancellor and provost of Cal-Berkeley, Carol Christ, “Colleges and universities are fundamentally in the business of enrolling students for tuition dollars.”If this is how institutions are required to operate, the current problems of access and affordability will only continue to get worse.

And, if I get the Kindle Paper White, here is what I will put on it:

– the Mayhew books on Lorca: but no, there is only one on the Kindle
– Artaud, Les Tarahumaras: but no, they do not have this on the Kindle

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L’université, la lutte

Giroux on Facebook today:

Fascist regimes wage a war against societies with strong social bonds and in doing so turn people against all notions of the public good, compassion, the government, working people, and the mesh of democratically inspired social relations. Instead of dignity, collective rights, social provisions, and a celebration of the public imagination, we get cruelty, the breaking of social obligations, and the breakdown of the social fabric.

There is this article on the impossibility of critique but it does not talk about high tuition as something one could and should contest.

I have been trying to come up with an issue to organize around and tuition seems to me to the most obvious.

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