Category Archives: ULS Presentation

The common good

We don’t know, of course, if anyone believes in the common good, or the public good any more, but here are some fragmentary notes from a conversation we had.

1. We should talk much more about research. In class. College has to become more interesting – we cannot allow it to be further redefined as rote credentialing. We need research at lower levels.

2. We need a description of the “academy” from an academic point of view. Everyone else is saying what college should be but what do we say?

3. If the university is a public good, it should be supported by public revenues – not special interests.

4. As a public good, the university has non-pecuniary benefits, and these have value even if it is not measured in gold.

5. The liberal arts – intellectual discipline, intellectual agenda, sets intellectual agendas.

Axé.

Leave a comment

Filed under ALFS presentation, ULS Presentation, What Is A Scholar?

Des feuilles

I am still going through my files and it is shocking – so many quite good and almost finished papers I set aside, or that got swept aside in one storm or another.

I have the Racial Order book, which is focused on the U.S. It talks about field theory (Bourdieu). Can race be a field? Like class, a field is “not a thing” — it is a set of relations, a set of overdeterminations; the field concept and formation theory have much in common.

There is someone called Kim Schneider who has written on the tragic mulata and the tragic muse, the mulata and the Jewess; I must look this up.

Subalterns used the language of rights to promote their inclusion in nation states, and Toussaint used the concept of rights — although he soon learned he was on the other side of modernity (his experience is a good example of the modernity/coloniality dyad). In the late 19th century the concept of RIGHTS collapses as Western industrial modernity becomes dominant.

***Completely different: if the student is customer and the faculty employee, what is civil society? Other vocabulary words: students are learners and faculty are customer service. But do people actually want to reject the neoliberal model? It is not just a question of whether we will have academic freedom and shared governance, but whether we will have a critical university and a democratic one. What about the patron-client relationships here: everything is Can I trust you? and Do I like you? What about mendacity, irrationality, incompetence — what if the actions of the administration are fraudulent, dishonest, manipulative?

Axé.

Leave a comment

Filed under ALFS presentation, Borderlands, Race book, ULS Presentation

The neoliberalization

Who said it? Market incentives lower the value of college to both individuals and the public. Defunding chips away at both the public good and the private benefits to students. Faculty should unite on the concept of public good, and senior administrators should articulate it. Privatization has a price (and is not an improvement).

Axé.

Leave a comment

Filed under ALFS presentation, ULS Presentation

Kropotkin and more.

I really should have spent all the time I wasted reading Marxist and other Left theory, simply for the sake of mental health — although it would have been good intellectual exercise as well, and a good political education. Here’s an article on Kropotkin, mutual aid and anarchism that is worth reading. Here is a good book-length study of Kropotkin, and here is a key paragraph from it.

I bought the biography of Victor Arnautoff, although I should not buy non-essential books. And my essay on the language of neoliberalism will start, I believe, by pointing to Kezar’s observations (which are also mine), including the fact that we do not seem to know where we are. And one of the reasons we do not is language.

(I want to come alive again, that is, I seem to be coming alive again after decades of sleepwalking and rare flashes of light.)

Axé.

Leave a comment

Filed under ALFS presentation, Movement, ULS Presentation

Adrianna Kezar

On the commercialization of higher education. Kezar says the three books she reviews offer oversimplified solutions to the commercialization problem. She says commercialization must be studied from a systems and cultural perspective.

1. What is the public good, and how is commercialization threatening it? None of the authors say a great deal about the notion of public good itself. Bok (one of the authors) published an earlier book that did address this.

2. In the 60s many attacked HE for not meeting the public interest: it was too exclussive, too involved with classified research related to defense; not involved in international humanitarian efforts, and not engaged enough politically. Bok says universities should be involved in community activities beyond teaching and research but not activist.

3. Slaughter and Rhoades (Academic capitalism) explain commercialization and commodification of HE well. They don’t say a great deal on how to fix it or navigate it; Kezar says understanding it helps navigate it.

4. How does the new university serve the public good, though? Bok, in his newer book (2003), says academic capitalism does not have to be laissez-faire. We just need to make sure profit-making enterprises such as athletics, research partnerships, and online learning don’t lead to a decline in general quality of teaching and research. We should stop taking kickbacks (dream on, my man — N. Ed.).

5. The third book Kezar discusses (Zemsky) makes similar recommendations — with the right policies, quality will not be eroded. These are superficial recommendations that do not address the gravity of the problem.

6. Bok and Zemsky say the problem is the decline in state and federal funding; Slaughter and Rhodes say the issue is the neoliberal philosophy that underlies this, and that has reshaped societal and institutional culture. It is fundamental to consider the societal and policy environment in which institutions exist, and in which they and individuals act (and may not be strong enough to counteract).

7. Underconceptualized are commercialization as a systems issue, and the depth of the change. We need recommendations and a framework for management that actually takes the problem as a systems issue into account. Disciplinary societies, for instance, need to work to develop codes of conduct around these issues. (The review goes into some detail on the systems analysis and its points are important.) We also need to incorporate a cultural perspective, as the changes are deep and pervasive; we need to figure out how to navigate them.

Axé.

Leave a comment

Filed under ALFS presentation, ULS Presentation

August 3-11

It is in August, then, that I will create the reserve list for that class and construct Moodle sites for all my classes. In July I will still read for them. Today I was supposed to start writing — write for an hour, not read — that article. There are all these tantalizing ways to start. One would be a reference to the caged children: we have them in camps (and may start “euthanizing” for all I know) because they are foreign … so racial categorization is not passé regardless of anything anyone says. (I need to stop writing prefaces and write the text, though.)

Also in August, of course, I will visit the ASUC Store and REI.

For my other piece, Max Alvarez has an interesting podcast, that I will listen to. And for class, I am going to retrieve this book from Dad.

Right now, though, it is time to get rid of a few very old notes. These are from a file that had been started on race, hybridity, and coloniality, and they are old.

One of the points they make is that Blackness is not the same thing everywhere, is not experienced the same way everywhere, and so on. Correct, diasporas are hybrid, to refer to “home” is essentializing, and so on. But where I am still uncomfortable is that these points do NOT mean there isn’t such a thing as white supremacy, even when WHITENESS isn’t uniform.

Gilroy’s idea of a Black Atlantic would be a kind of middle ground, say Gordon and Anderson (1999). This might be a good piece to cite as something from the past … but all the other articles in the folder are too passé.

Axé.

Leave a comment

Filed under ALFS presentation, Race book, ULS Presentation

Research universities and the public good

I would buy this book if it were less expensive, and if it were in a library I would check it out.

Countering recent arguments that we should “unbundle” or “disrupt” higher education, Jason Owen-Smith argues that research universities are valuable gems that deserve support. While they are complex and costly, their enduring value is threefold: they simultaneously act as sources of new knowledge, anchors for regional and national communities, and hubs that connect disparate parts of society. These distinctive features allow them, more than any other institution, to innovate in response to new problems and opportunities.

Axé.

Leave a comment

Filed under ALFS presentation, Bibliography, ULS Presentation