Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Rethinking the University

Rethinking the University: Labor, Knowledge, Value
April 11-13, 2008
University of Minnesota
Deadline for Submissions: January 15, 2008

The university is in crisis. This crisis, evident in the everyday transformations of higher education, is made most visible during moments of labor struggle. Like universities across the world, the University of Minnesota has recently experienced an explosion of labor struggles, themselves symptomatic of the tendencies existing in this increasingly neo-liberal institution. Unfortunately, our struggles have been hampered by an intellectual and organizational lag, which has made it difficult for us to adequately respond to these crises. As a result, at key moments we have been unable to rethink fundamental assumptions about the university and, as a result, have fallen back on idealist notions of a university somehow removed from the world, have reproduced the language of an already existing "public university," and have sought comfort in legislative and institutional remedies.

It is because of the need to radically rethink our political strategy that we invite you to join us in the project of rethinking the University of Minnesota as well as the concept of "the university" itself. It is our belief that a militant struggle over higher education requires a militant rethinking of the languages, organizations, and foundational assumptions upon which the battle over higher education takes place. To this end, we want to collectively think about questions such as:
  • What is the role of the university in the production of value within contemporary capitalism? What is the relationship between academic labor and various other forms of labor at the university?
  • How can we reconsider the status of academic knowledge, research, and pedagogy in this context?
  • How can we remake universities as agents for changing this context?
  • What forms of university governance, collectives, and subjectivities would best facilitate projects for constituting the common world that we desire?
  • The purpose of this inquiry is not only to produce critique, but also to generate sites of resistance and viable alternatives to the corporate university.
As such, we invite diverse responses to these questions including collaborative works, workshop presentations, and art (e.g. photo-essays, performance art, and film/video pieces), as well as traditional essay presentations. In addition to presentations that engage the problem of the university in late capitalism more generally, we also invite presentations that treat the specific case of University of Minnesota. We hope to put into conversation workers of all types: university staff, artists, lecturers, union organizers, students, professors, and community activists, all of whom have a stake in shaping the future of the university.

Potential topics might include (but are not limited to):
  • radical pedagogy
  • corporate funding, branding
  • labor organizing in the university
  • students as consumers
  • intellectual property
  • immaterial labor
  • student and faculty activism
  • issues of access
  • class, gender, and race
  • casualization of labor
  • histories of the university
Please send questions and submissions (up to 500 word abstracts, workshop, or project proposals) to: morgan_adamson@yahoo.com

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