Margaret D. LeCompte – Collisions Of Culture: Academic Culture In The Neoliberal University

AAUPlogo_rgbTweb12013. This article describes how different constituencies in a major research university tried to initiate change despite disagreements over common goals, norms and principles. The context was a culture war. The university administration wanted to impose a corporatizing and privatizing philosophy which it felt was crucial to preserving the university’s academic integrity and its financial survival in a time of budgetary crisis.  Faculty viewed these actions as serious threats to shared governance, faculty control over the curriculum, instruction and research, academic freedom and the faculty’s Constitutional rights. These forces played out in the firing and grievance cases of Ward Churchill and Adrienne Anderson, professors whose research and publications angered members of the political and academic establishment and galvanized protests pro and con from the media, conservative politicians and public intellectuals.

Keywords:  higher education, academic freedom, shared governance, faculty control, Adrienne Anderson, Ward Churchill, ACTA, university culture, faculty rights, due process

This article describes how different constituencies in a research university tried to initiate change despite disagreements over common goals, norms, or even the need for negotiation. At stake was victory in a culture war. The university administration wanted to impose on students and faculty a corporatizing and privatizing philosophy increasingly prominent in academic life. The administration held this was crucial to preserving the university’s academic integrity and balance, and more importantly, the university’s financial survival in a time when donor and legislative support should not be jeopardized.  Faculty members, however, saw such moves as a serious threat to shared governance, their control over the curriculum, instruction and research, their academic freedom and their Constitutional rights.

Read more at: http://www.cu-aaup.org/documents-3/collisions-of-culture-academic-culture-in-the-neoliberal-university/

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King, Gary & Maya Sen -The Troubled Future Of Colleges And Universities (With Comments From Five Scholar-Administrators)

PS: Political Science and Politics 46, no. 1: 81–113. Copy at http://j.mp/U82gj2 – Abstract:

The American system of higher education is under attack by political, economic, and educational forces that threaten to undermine its business model, governmental support, and operating mission. The potential changes are considerably more dramatic and disruptive than what we’ve already experienced. Traditional colleges and universities urgently need a coherent, thought-out response. Their central role in ensuring the creation, preservation, and distribution of knowledge may be at risk and, as a consequence, so too may be the spectacular progress across fields we have come to expect as a result.
Symposium contributors include Henry E. Brady, John Mark Hansen, Gary King, Nannerl O. Keohane, Michael Laver, Virginia Sapiro, and Maya Sen.

Read more at: http://gking.harvard.edu/troubled-future-colleges-and-universities

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Adam Farkas – Townships In South Africa: Can Design Help Solve The Housing Crisis?

guardian.com. May 2014. On the World Design Capital (WDC) website, Cape Town presents someremarkable shack design projects aimed to solve a nationwide slum problem. Yet even with more than 200 informal settlements and 600,000 residents waiting for formal housing, the Western Cape has been slow to implement the ‘transformative design’ it celebrates.
The reluctance is not surprising as all those designs respond to the fact that South Africa’s housing programme is not coping. Born from a historic pledge by the ANC in 1994, the scheme to provide brick houses to all those in need is too costly and too slow. The backlog hit 2.1m units in 2013 and at least 1.9 million people (more than 10% of all households) live in shacks or other makeshift dwellings.
Throughout the country, hundreds of thousands of shacks make dense townships which grapple with fires, floods and sanitation problems. To bring relief from these everyday dangers, designers are proposing intermediate steps between shacks and brick houses – quick, low-cost, temporary solutions – until the state housing programme catches up on its backlog. Yet political and financial hurdles have so far stood in the way of building modern shacks on a large scale.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/south-africa-cape-town-slum-housing?

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John Horgan – Why Study Humanities? What I Tell Engineering Freshmen

Socrates teaching the humanities

Socrates teaching the humanities

Scientific American. June 2013. What’s the point of the humanities? Of studying philosophy, history, literature and “soft” sciences like psychology and poly sci? The Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences, consisting of academic, corporate, political and entertainment big shots, tries to answer this question in a big new report to Congress. The report is intended to counter plunging enrollment in and support for the humanities, which are increasingly viewed as “luxuries that employment-minded students can ill afford,” as The New York Times put it.

Titled “The Heart of the Matter,” the report states: “As we strive to create a more civil public discourse, a more adaptable and creative workforce, and a more secure nation, the humanities and social sciences are the heart of the matter, the keeper of the republic—a source of national memory and civic vigor, cultural understanding and communication, individual fulfillment and the ideals we hold in common. They are critical to a democratic society and they require our support.”

I find this a bit grandiose, and obscure. I have my own humble defense of the humanities, which I came up with a couple of years ago, when I started teaching a new course required for all freshmen at Stevens Institute of Technology. The syllabus includes Sophocles, Plato, Thucydides, Shakespeare, Descartes, Hobbes, Locke, Kant, Mill, Marx, Nietzsche, William James, Freud, Keynes, Eliot – you know, Greatest Hits of Western Civilization.

Read more: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/what-i-tell-engineering-freshmen/

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vivafavela.com.br

vivafavelaViva Favela é um projeto do Viva Rio, cuja experiência com atividades e propostas relacionadas ao jornalismo tem mais de uma década de história. Sua proposta central visa à integração social, à inclusão digital e a refletir a vida das populações do universo das favelas. Na internet, é um site cujo conteúdo é produzido por jornalistas e correspondentes comunitários, que são comunicadores moradores de favelas e periferias urbanas. Além do resultado de sua produção na web, o projeto oferece também oficinas para a formação de correspondentes.
O portal Viva Favela é referência nacional. Criado em 2001, foi pioneiro na produção e oferta de conteúdo temático sobre favelas e periferias urbanas na internet. Ainda antes do surgimento das atuais mídias sociais, o projeto desenvolveu metodologia própria para a formação de comunicadores locais e já recebeu diversos prêmios.

http://vivafavela.com.br/

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New Zealand – Governance Changes Will Undermine Role Of Universities

zealandUniversities New Zealand – Te Pōkai Tara opposes plans to change the composition of university councils which will remove the statutory protections that ensure universities have the independence and diversity to effectively represent the communities they serve.
“The changes announced by the Government last week are of great concern to the university sector. They remove the legal requirement for democratically elected students, staff and other representatives to sit on councils, undermining a model of governance that has worked well to reflect the broad range of voices universities represent,” says Universities NZ Chair Professor Roy Crawford.

Professor Crawford says that the planned changes are not based on evidence and are not consistent with international best practice.
“The reasons given for the changes are to make university councils faster moving and responsive. Our universities however are amongst the best performing and most efficient in the world.”

Read more at: http://www.universitiesnz.ac.nz/

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