Sunday, December 20, 2009

Thin knowing rules university management

The latest issue (no. 106) of World University News, of December 20, 2009, has a report by Anthea Garman on "Marketisation, globalisation and universities", from a conference earlier in December at the South Africa-Nordic Centre (Sanord) on Inclusion and Exclusion in Higher Education.
Here, Professor Saleem Badat, Vice-chancellor of Rhodes University, said that to steer the university into the future "we need other principles, other co-ordinates and logics from those dominating the previous three decades". - "Universities hold the promise of contribution to justice, democracy and citizenship, but dealing with exclusion goes beyond access, it goes into institutional and academic cultures, into learning and teaching, into ideas, into the conceptions and the purposes of universities."

Here's a longer quote from the report:
Anthropologist Vigdis Broch Due from Bergen, who heads a poverty politics research group, approached the issue from a different point of view. Titling her keynote lecture "In praise of complexity" she called for an ethics of standing against the "seductions of simple-mindedness" in which a "dense reality is organised into an easily graspable reality by bureaucrats and policy-makers."
"Ideas shape the world," she reminded the intellectuals present, "and the world is simply, stubbornly complex. How can we understand the world without betraying complexity?" she asked.
She argued that what universities and scholars do best is to use "thick descriptions" (Clifford Geertz' words) to help societies understand the world they live in. "This should be at the core of our production and dissemination of knowledge and it runs counter to the current domination of the thin descriptions of current policies."
The drive to thin descriptions is because it is "easier and manageable", but the challenge for academics is to "insert the thick into the thin" because "thin knowing has a host of unintended consequences which is the bitter fruit of policy implemented through the last decade" in higher education institutions, she said.
"There is something reassuring about simple binaries such as 'men exploit, women are exploited'; a powerful need to distil social complexities into moral simplicities. But scholars and analysts should resist the overriding concern with categorisation," Broch-Due said.
"We cannot dislodge simplistic stories by arguing they are wrong, we must provide a better story, a more compelling story. This is also a question of pragmatics: how do we tell a better story?" she asked and then elaborated: the community of scholars must use the techniques of communication, talking to publics and across disciplines, writing and publishing in "many different genres".
The key to understand the world is in higher education, she concluded, "only higher education gives the key to complex thinking. It is impossible to divorce knowledge from the community of knowledge-making."
The key to understand the world is in higher education, she concluded, "only higher education gives the key to complex thinking. It is impossible to divorce knowledge from the community of knowledge-making."
Find Anthea Garman's report here.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Excellent Open Access Journals for Educators

A message to our readers, kindly mailed to us by Amber Johnson:
We just posted an article, "100 Excellent Open Access Journals for Educators" ( I thought I'd drop a quick line and let you know in case you thought it was something you're audience would be interested in reading. Thanks!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Workplace #16: Academic knowledge, labor and neoliberalism

The Editors of Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor are pleased to announce the release of Workplace #16—"Academic Knowledge, Labor, and Neoliberalism."

Check it out at:

Table of Contents

Knowledge Production and the Superexploitation of Contingent Academic Labor
Bruno Gulli

The Education Agenda is a War Agenda: Connecting Reason to Power and Power to Resistance
Rich Gibson, E. Wayne Ross

The Rise of Venture Philanthropy and the Ongoing Neoliberal Assault on Public Education: The Eli and Edith Broad Foundation
Kenneth Saltman

Feature Articles
Theses on College and University Administration: A Critical Perspective
John F. Welsh

The Status Degradation Ceremony: The Phenomenology of Social Control in Higher Education
John F. Welsh

Book Reviews
Review of The Last Professors: The Corporate University and the Fate of the Humanities
Desi Bradley

Authentic Bona fide Democrats Must Go Beyond Liberalism, Capitalism, and Imperialism: A Review of Dewey’s Dream: Universities and Democracies in an Age of Education Reform
Richard A. Brosio

Review of Capitalizing on Disaster: Taking and Breaking Public Schools
Prentice Chandler

Review of Pedagogy and Praxis in the Age of Empire: Towards a New Humanism
Abraham P. Deleon

Review of Cary Nelson and the Struggle for the University: Poetry, Politics, and the Profession
Leah Schweitzer

Review of Rhetoric and Resistance in the Corporate Academy
Lisa Tremain

Read the Workplace Blog:
Join us on Facebook:

Friday, November 6, 2009

Call for papers: Neoliberalism and public education


Educational Studies Special Issue:
Neoliberalism and Public Education

Guest Editors: Richard D. Lakes & Patricia A. Carter
Social Foundations of Education
Georgia State University, Atlanta

Increasingly neoliberal economic policies are transforming the delivery of
public education. In the current era of marketplace reforms the idea of
the public has been supplanted by a private ideology of risk management;
whereby, under individualization, students as consumers are taught
responsible choice strategies designed for competitive advantage in the
so-called new economy.

Under Keynesian economics, which held sway in the U.S., Britain, Canada,
and Australia from the 1930s to the Thatcher-Reagan era of the 1980s, the
public sought to ameliorate inequities stemming from race, class and
gender bias, but under neoliberalism the state has shifted to promoting a
meritocratic myth of governing the self. As old collectivities and their
support structures such as working-class labor and unions have begun to
disappear under advanced capitalism so too have their counterparts within
the school system.

In this special issue we seek manuscripts that explore the devolution of
public education under neoliberalism. We are interested in scholarly
papers that trouble the notion of risk in an educational environment of
competitive capitalism, the nature of specialized curriculums that are
devoted to social advantage, the ways in which schools have outsourced
services and privatized operations; and the assaults on teachers’ rights
through de-unionizing practices, the dismantling of seniority, and the
erosion of benefits. We are interested in case studies of neoliberal
designed school-based reforms as well as accounts of teaching about
neoliberalism in the social foundations classroom.

To submit manuscripts please use our online submission and review system
at Manuscript Central:

Be sure to include a note that your submission is for the Special Issue on
Neoliberalism and Public Education.

Deadline for manuscript submissions: June 1, 2010.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Research evaluation based on academic excellence or impact

On a philosophy of science mailinglist (HOPOS), a U.K. based member recently wrote: "(...) I hope this is not an abuse of the list and I appreciate that this will be of interest primarily for UK based hopoi only. There is growing concern here over the inclusion of some form of societal 'impact' factor in the next research evaluation framework (upon which a considerable portion of our funding depends). Many science folk are 'up in arms' over this but of course it bites even harder for us arts types. Emulating a recent science and engineering petition James Ladyman and I have put a petition up on the 10 Downing St. website and if you feel anywhere nearly as strongly about this as we do, please sign up."
The link is: The complete petition text:
We request the reversal of the Research Councils and HEFCE policy to direct funds to projects whose outcomes are determined to have a significant ‘impact’. The arts and humanities do have such an impact, but it is typically difficult if not impossible to judge this in the short-term. Academic excellence is the best predictor of impact in the longer term, and it is on academic excellence alone that research should be judged. ‘Users’ who are not academic experts are not fit to judge the academic excellence of research any more than employers are fit to mark student essays. The UK is renowned for its creative industries. But the roots of creativity in the intellectual life of the nation need sustained support and evaluations based on short-term impact will lead to less impact in the long-term. We also request the abandonment of plans to merge subject panels based on spurious claims of disciplinary and methodological similarities. Merging panels in most cases would undermine both methodological integrity and disciplinary identities and undermine the world class research that the UK currently produces.
A French reader suggested an international reaction against this kind of research evaluation, and the petition was also mentioned at a french site "Sauvons la recherche":

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Challenging Orthodoxies: Critical Governance Studies at Warwick

The inaugural Critical Governance Studies conference will be held at the University of Warwick on 13th and 14th December 2010.
The objective of the conference is to bring together scholars and activists challenging orthodoxies and developing critical approaches to the study of governance. We believe it is timely to hold an event such as this, which at a moment of crisis and discontent, has the potential to establish critical governance studies as a recognized milieu in the social sciences. The conference will be cross-disciplinary and based on themes that might include, among others, critical approaches to the governance of citizens, space, money, networks, science and the university. We are delighted that Professor Nancy Fraser has agreed to be keynote speaker.

Please circulate this information to relevant contacts and networks and contact or 02476 574688 if you:
a. are interested in attending the conference and would like further information
b. would be interested in running a conference stream. If so, please state what you have mind.

[see also:]

Friday, September 11, 2009

Call for manuscripts: Critical Education

Critical Education is an international peer-reviewed journal, which seeks manuscripts that critically examine contemporary education contexts and practices. Critical Education is interested in theoretical and empirical research as well as articles that advance educational practices that challenge the existing state of affairs in society, schools, and informal education.

Critical Education is an open access journal, launching in early 2010. The journal home is

Critical Education is hosted by the Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy at the University of British Columbia and edited by Sandra Mathison (UBC), E. Wayne Ross (UBC) and Adam Renner (Bellarmine University) along with collective of 30 scholars in education that includes:

Faith Ann Agostinone, Aurora University
Wayne Au, California State University, Fullerton
Marc Bousquet, Santa Clara University
Joe Cronin, Antioch University
Antonia Darder, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
George Dei, OISE/University of Toronto
Stephen C. Fleury, Le Moyne College
Kent den Heyer, University of Alberta
Nirmala Erevelles, University of Alabama
Michelle Fine, City University of New York
Gustavo Fischman, Arizona State University
Melissa Freeman, University of Georgia
David Gabbard, East Carolina University
Rich Gibson, San Diego State University
Dave Hill, University of Northampton
Nathalia E. Jaramillo, Purdue University
Saville Kushner, University of West England
Zeus Leonardo, University of California, Berkeley
Pauline Lipman, University of Illinois, Chicago
Lisa Loutzenheiser, University of British Columbia
Marvin Lynn, University of Illinois, Chicago
Sheila Macrine, Montclair State University
Perry M. Marker, Sonoma State University
Rebecca Martusewicz, Eastern Michigan University
Peter McLaren, University of California, Los Angeles
Stephen Petrina, University of British Columbia
Stuart R. Poyntz, Simon Fraser University
Patrick Shannon, Penn State University
Kevin D. Vinson, University of the West Indies
John F. Welsh, Louisville, KY

Online submission and author guidelines can be found here.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Tenure's Value ... to Society

Someone on the edu-factory email list brought my attention to the article Tenure's Value ... to Society from Inside Higher Ed (here): "This is an interesting finding on tenure, the main mechanism of job security in US academia. Recent studies show that 40% of teaching faculty in US public universities are not tenure-track." Quote from Scott Jaschik's report:
"A judge ruled last week in Colorado that not only is tenure a good thing for the professors who enjoy it, it is valuable to the public. Further, the court ruled that the value (to the public) of tenure outweighed the value of giving colleges flexibility in hiring and dismissing. That is a principle that faculty members say is very important and makes this case about much more than the specific issues at play.
While noting "countervailing public interests" in the case, the judge wrote that "the public interest is advanced more by tenure systems that favor academic freedom over tenure systems that favor flexibility in hiring or firing." The ruling added that "by its very nature, tenure promotes a system in which academic freedom is protected" and that "a tenure system that allows flexibility in firing is oxymoronic.""
More here:

Monday, July 20, 2009

Critical Education: New journal to officially launch in early 2010

Critical Education is a new international peer-reviewed journal, which seeks manuscripts that critically examine contemporary education contexts and practices. Critical Education is interested in theoretical and empirical research as well as articles that advance educational practices that challenge the existing state of affairs in society, schools, and informal education.

Critical Education is an open access journal and uses the Open Journal Systems management and publication platform, which was developed by the Public Knowledge Project at Simon Fraser University to expand and improve access to research.

Critical Education is hosted by the Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy at the University of British Columbia and edited by Sandra Mathison, E. Wayne Ross and Adam Renner.

Mathison, Ross, and Renner have extensive experience as educators, researchers, and academic journal editors in the United States and Canada.

Mathison is currently Editor-in-Chief of New Directions in Evaluation. She is also editor and author of several books including Encyclopedia of Evaluation, The Nature and Limits of Standards-Based Reform and Assessment, Battleground Schools and most recently Researching Children's Experiences.

Ross co-edits Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor and Cultural Logic and is former editor of Theory and Research in Social Education. His books include Neoliberalism and Education Reform (winner of the 2009 Critics' Choice Award from the the American Educational Studies Association), Education Under the Security State, The Social Studies Curriculum, and Image and Education, among others.

Renner is an Associate Professor in the School of Education at Bellarmine University in Louisville, KY. As well, he serves as the Director of the Interdisciplinary Core in the Bellarmine College of Arts and Sciences. Once a high school math teacher, Renner received his Ph.D from the University of Tennessee in Cultural Studies. He teaches courses on social difference, social justice, globalization, international service learning, and general pedagogy.

Renner's research interests are tightly connected to the courses he teaches. He has published in such venues as the Journal of Curriculum Theorizing, Educational Studies, the International Journal of Learning, and Intercultural Education, among others. He is the editor of The Rouge Forum News.

Additionally, among many invited lectures, he has delivered more than forty papers at professional conferences in the US, Canada, Mexico, and Jamaica. Since 1998, Adam has coordinated an international partnership which pairs students and faculty from the US with educational and health workers in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

In the coming weeks and months Critical Education will be announcing additional members of the Editorial Team as well as members of the Editorial Collective.

Our aim is to officially launch the journal in early 2010.

For more information visit the journal's website.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Higher education is a public good, not a service

150 governments agree that higher education is a public good, not a service. See the lead article of the last issue of the World University News!
- quotes:
"UNESCO held its second World Conference on Higher Education in Paris last week. The biggest event on the global higher education calendar since the first world conference in 1998, the four-day meeting attracted 1,200 delegates from 150 countries. They debated current and future issues in higher education in the areas of social responsibility, access, equity and quality, internationalisation, regionalisation and globalisation, and learning, research and innovation. There was also a special focus on Africa. As the official media representative at the conference, University World News covered all the key events." (...)
"The 'public good' debate followed numerous political squabbles over the "commodification" of higher education. At its heart is the wish by several developed countries to export educational provision without facing barriers to entry in foreign markets. They have pushed other countries to sign into effect education's inclusion in GATS, which would allow private providers to set up freely in those countries.
Developing countries fear their governments will be constrained from regulating higher education. For instance, there has been concern that governments would be required under GATS to subsidise foreign education providers on the same basis as they fund local public universities or violate GATS anti-discriminatory clauses." (...)
"Use of the words 'public good' appeared in the first draft communiqué published on 26 June. It was replaced with 'public service' in the second draft - which also shunted the section on social responsibility in higher education down the list of themes - and then popped back up again in the final communiqué as the very first point: "Higher education as a public good is the responsibility of all stakeholders, especially governments," the communiqué says.
Minister after minister supported this stance and, sources said, India was insistent on this in the drafting group. India does not currently allow foreign higher education providers but the current government will present a bill to parliament to allow them in under certain conditions, an Indian delegate told the conference." (...)
"Speaking on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean group within UNESCO, Argentina's Minister for Education Juan Carlos Tedesco said: "We have to stress the idea that education and knowledge is part of the public good which each and every citizen has a right to.""

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Making the University Safe for Intellectual Life in the 21st Century

In connection with Warwick’s Festival of Social Science next week, Steve Fuller has started a blog called ‘Making the University Safe for Intellectual Life in the 21st Century’. Fuller: "I will be posting entries during the week and perhaps afterward. Your comments and responses are welcomed, since we are having a lively discussion here about the future of the university as an institution. I’m sure many of you are having similar discussions as well." - Welcome to our new blog sister in arms! You can see Fuller's first entry here:

Sunday, June 7, 2009

New work on academic freedom

Being in contact with Terence Karran from the University of Lincoln, a member of this blog's network, I find it highly relevant to tell about some of his recent work. He has been invited by Ingrid Stage, president of Dansk Magisterforening to appear as a guest speaker at the DM conference on university governance and freedom of research on 11th June, 2009, at DM’s premises Nimbusparken 16, Frederiksberg, in Copenhagen.

Karran's research work into academic freedom has continued and he has a paper in the June 2009 edition of the British Journal of Education Studies entitled, "Academic Freedom in Europe: Reviewing UNESCO’s Recommendation”. He wrote this paper to update and extend the analysis of his previous paper [“Academic Freedom in Europe: A Preliminary Comparative Analysis” published in the UNESCO/IUA journal Higher Education Policy in 2007] to include all the new EU states, and also to answer criticisms made by the Danish Education Minister, Helge Sander, that his previous paper did not relate directly to the parameters laid out in the 1997 UNESCO Recommendation. The June 2009 edition of the BJES focuses specifically on academic freedom, and to mark the publication of this special edition of the journal, the Society for Educational Studies hosted a special seminar on “Understanding Academic Freedom” at the Rothermere American Institute, at the University of Oxford on 20th May, at which the contributors to the special edition, addressed the question ‘How is academic freedom understood in the 21st Century?’ Karran shared the panel at Oxford with his fellow contributors, Roy Harris (Emeritus Professor of General Linguistics, University of Oxford), Steve Fuller (Professor of Sociology, University of Warwick) and Dennis Hayes (Visiting Professor, Oxford Brookes University). Interestingly , it seems that ensuring protection for academic freedom is as important a topic at Oxford as it is in Denmark!

In addition, Karran's articles entitled "Academic Freedom: In Justification of a Universal Ideal" and "Academic Freedom in Europe: Time for a Magna Charta?", has just been published in the May 2009 edition of Studies in Higher Education and the June 2009 edition of the journal Higher Education Policy, respectively. These articles follow on from the conclusion of his previous 2007 article on academic freedom in the journal Higher Education Policy, in which he stated: "Further work is therefore required ... first, a succinct yet inclusive and coherent working definition of academic freedom is needed for Universities in the EU nations, derived from, and built on, their historic commitment to this principle. Second, and more importantly, the reasons justifying academic freedom need to be voiced clearly and loudly." The working definition for academic freedom specified in the article in Higher Education Policy goes beyond traditional discussions of academic freedom by specifying not only the rights inherent in the concept but its necessary limitations and safeguards which could form the basis for a European Magna Charta Libertatis Academicae. Clearly, the adoption of such a document by the EUA and the national academic professional associations would do much to raise the salience and awareness of academic freedom within Europe's universities. The article in Studies in Higher Education examines the justification for, and benefits of, academic freedom to academics, students, universities, and the world at large, and provides a powerful, evidence based, justification for the preservation of the concept of academic freedom in the universities of Europe and world wide.

You can see these articles in their journal contexts here:

and I guess that if you don't have free access to these journals via your local library, Karran would kindly forward you pdf offprints.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

New home, new outlook, new publishing system for Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor

Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor

The Editorial Team of Workplace is proud to announce the journal's new home, new outlook, and new publishing system!

We encourage you to browse the Workplace open journal system, submit a manuscript, or volunteer to review We also welcome proposals for Special Issues; if you have an idea or have assembled a group of scholars writing on higher education workplace activism and issues of academic labor, send us a proposal.

Current preprints include:

John Welsh's "Theses on College and University Administration" and "The Status Degradation Ceremony." As a whole, both feature articles challenge scholars to rethink the administration of higher education and how we frame research into this process

"The Education Agenda is a War Agenda: Connecting Reason to Power and Power to Resistance" by Rich Gibson & E. Wayne Ross

Reviews by Richard Brosio and Prentice Chandler

Thank you and please forward this invitation to colleagues and networks.
Stephen Petrina & E. Wayne Ross, Co-Editors

Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor
Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy
University of British Columbia

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Rouge Forum News - Call for Submissions (Issues 14 & 15)

Rouge Forum News, Issue 14: Call for papers

The Rouge Forum News is an outlet for working papers, critical analysis, and grassroots news. Issue 14 of the RF News will be dedicated to papers delivered at the Rouge Forum Conference at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, MI.

Conference presenters, if you would like your paper to be considered for Issue 14, please send your essay to Adam Renner at by June 15, 2009.

Rouge Forum News, Issue 15: Call for papers

The Rouge Forum News is an outlet for working papers, critical analysis, and grassroots news. Issue 15 will be dedicated to our persistence in providing links between runaway capital, the rabid and rapid standardization of curriculum, the co-optation of our unions, the militarization of our youth, and the creep of irrationalism in our schools.

We are interested in work from academics, parents, teachers, and students: teachers at all levels, students in ANY grade, parents of children of any age.

Something small, something big, something serious. It is the stories we get from people like you that make the RF News what it is. If you have a story to share, but would like to protect your identity, use a pen name. Pen names are ALWAYS welcome!

We NEED Art! Songs! Poems! Editorial cartoons! Links to online videos or other material!

We are looking for narratives, as well as research, and the interplay between research and practice which focuses on the economy, curriculum, unions, etc. If you have a story to tell, some research to share, a book to review, we'd love to see it (and share it).

We publish material from k-12 students, parents, teachers, academics, and community people struggling for equality and democracy in schools—writing (intended to inform/educate, or stories from your classroom, etc.), art, cartoons, photos, poetry. You can submit material for the RF News via email (text attachment, if possible) to Adam Renner at PLEASE SUBMIT BY AUGUST 15, 2009.

See Issue 13 of the Rouge Forum News. All past issues at available here.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

CFP: Working In, and Against, the Neo-Liberal State: Global Perspectives on K-12 Teacher Unions

Call for Papers:Working In, and Against, the Neo-Liberal State: Global Perspectives on K-12 Teacher Unions

Special Issue for Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor

The neo-liberal restructuring of national education systems is a global phenomenon and represents a major threat to the possibility of a democratic, public education committed to meeting the needs of working class and oppressed groups. Teacher unions, across the world, despite all the attacks on them, represent perhaps the most formidable obstacle to neo-liberal restructuring. Teachers remain highly unionized and although they have suffered many setbacks in recent years, their collective organizations generally remain robust.

Despite the significance and importance of teacher unions they remain largely under-researched. Mainstream academic literature on school sector education policy often ignores teacher unions, even in cases where scholars are critical of the market orientation of neo-liberal reforms. Two recent exceptions to this tradition are the contributions of Compton and Weiner (2008) and Stevenson et al (2007). The strength of Compton and Weiner’s excellent volume is the breadth of international perspectives. However, individual chapters are largely short ‘vignettes’, and the aim is to offer fairly brief and readable accounts, rather than detailed and scholarly analysis. Stevenson et al offer a series of traditional scholarly articles, although the emphasis is largely on the Anglophone nations (UK, North America, Australasia), and the collection fails to capture the full breadth required of an international perspective. In both cases, and quite understandably, these contributions were not able to take account of the seismic developments in the world capitalist economy since Autumn 08 in particular. These developments have significant implications for the future of neo-liberalism, for the development of education policy in nation states and for the policies and practices of teacher unions. There is now a strong case for an analysis of teacher unionism that is detailed, scholarly, international and able to take account of current developments.

This special section of Workplace will focus on the ways in which teacher unions in the K-12 sector are challenging the neo-liberal restructuring of school education systems in a range of global contexts. Neo-liberalism’s reach is global. Its impact on the restructuring of public education systems shares many common characteristics wherever it manifests itself. That said, it also plays out differently in different national and local contexts. This collection of papers will seek to assess how teacher unions are challenging the trajectory of neo-liberal reform in a number of different national contexts. By drawing on contributors from all the major world continents it will seek to highlight the points of contact and departure in the apparently different ways in which teacher unions interface with the neo-liberal agenda. It will also ensure that analyses seek to reflect recent developments in the global capitalist economy, and the extent to which this represents threat or opportunity for organized teacher movements.

Compton, M. and Weiner, L. (2008) The Global Assault on Teachers, Teaching and their Unions, London: Palgrave.

Stevenson, H. et al (2007) Changes in Teachers’ Work and the Challengs Facing Teacher Unions. International Electronic Journal of Leadership for Learning. Volume 11.

Contributions to Workplace should be 4000-6000 words in length and should conform to MLA style. If you are interested, please submit an abstract via Word attachment to Howard Stevenson ( by 31st July 2009. Completed articles will be due via email on 28th December 2009. All papers will be blind peer-reviewed.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Rouge Forum Conference 2009—Education, Empire, Economy & Ethics at a Crossroads (conference schedule)

The schedule for the Rouge Forum Conference 2009—Education, Empire, Economy & Ethics at a Crossroads—is now online. Check out the great speakers, sessions and events for the meeting at Eastern Michigan University, May 15-17.

Check out all the details for the conference at

Friday, February 27, 2009

Call for Manuscripts: Academic Labor and Law

CFP: Academic Labor and Law
Special Section of Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor
Workplace Blog

Guest Editor: Jennifer Wingard, University of Houston

[Note: Articles on Academic Labor and Law issues in contexts beyond the USA are welcomed]

The historical connections between legislation, the courts, and the academy have been complex and multi-layered. This has been evident from early federal economic policies, such as the Morell Act and the GI Bill, through national and state legislation that protected student and faculty rights, such as the First Amendment and affirmative action clauses. These connections continue into our current moment of state and national efforts to define the work of the university, such as The Academic Bill of Rights and court cases regarding distance learning. The question, then, becomes whether and to what extent the impact of legislation and litigation reveals or masks the shifting mission of the academy. Have these shifts been primarily economic, with scarcities of funding leading many to want to legislate what is considered a university education, how it should be financed, and who should benefit from it? Are the shifts primarily ideological, with political interests working to change access, funding, and the intellectual project of higher education? Or are the shifts a combination of both political and economic influences? One thing does become clear from these discussions: at their core, the legal battles surrounding higher education are about the changing nature of the university –the use of managerial/corporate language; the desire to professionalize students rather than liberally educate them; the need to create transparent structures of evaluation for both students and faculty; and the attempt to define the types of knowledge produced and disseminated in the classroom. These are changes for which faculty, students, administrators, as well as citizens who feel they have a stake in higher education, seek legal redress. This special section of Workplace aims to explore the ways in which legislation and court cases impact the work of students, professors, contingent faculty, and graduate students in the university. Potential topics include but are not limited to:

* Academic Freedom for students and/or faculty

o Horowitz’s Academic Bill of Rights
o Missouri’s Emily Booker Intellectual Diversity Act
o First Amendment court cases concerning faculty and student’s rights to freely express themselves in the classroom and on campuses
o Facebook/Myspace/Blog court cases
o Current legislative and budgetary “attacks” on area studies (i.e. Queer Studies in Georgia, Women’s Studies in Florida)
* Affirmative Action
o The implementation of state and university diversity initiatives in the 1970s
o The current repeal of affirmative action law across the country
* Benefits, including Health Benefits, Domestic Partner Benefits
o How universities in states with same-sex marriage bans deal with domestic partner benefits
* Collective Bargaining
o The recent rulings at NYU and Brown about the status of graduate students as employees
o State anti-unionization measures and how they impact contingent faculty
* Copyright/Intellectual Property
o In Distance Learning
o In corporate sponsored science research
o In government sponsored research
* Disability Rights and Higher Education
o How the ADA impacts the university
* Sexual Harassment and Consensual Relationships
o How diversity laws and sexual harassment policies impact the university
* Tenure
o The Bennington Case
o Post 9/11 court cases

Contributions for Workplace should be 4000-6000 words in length and should conform to MLA style. If interested, please send an abstract via word attachment to Jennifer Wingard ( by Friday, May 22, 2009. Completed essays will be due via email by Monday, August 24, 2009.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Update on Rouge Forum 2009: Education, Empire, Economy, & Ethics at a Crossroads

Update on Rouge Forum 2009

Education, Empire, Economy, & Ethics at a Crossroads
May 15-17, 2009
Eastern Michigan University
Ypsilanti, MI

(Ypsilanti is located in southeast Michigan, 15 minutes from the Detroit Metropolitan Airport, 35 miles west of Detroit, and 8 miles east of Ann Arbor, which is home to the University of Michigan.)

Keynote Speakers/Performances:

Staughton Lynd has agreed to be a keynote speaker at the conference. Staughton Lynd is a legendary peace and civil rights activist, historian, lawyer, and organizer. Lynd directed the Mississippi Freedom Schools in the summer of 1964, taught history at Yale University and Spellman College and has been an organizer and worker rights attorney in Youngstown, OH for over thirty years. His books include Rank and File, Lucasville, and the recently published memoir Stepping Stones.

Greg Queen, 2008 recipient of the NCSS Defense of Academic Freedom Award will also provide a keynote address and we expect to identify another keynote speaker soon.

We anticipate an exciting "Adventures in Live Art" public performance from artist Billy X. Curmano. Curmano will also conduct a workshop at the conference ("Changing Culture with Art: Creativity of the people, for the people and the planet").

As you can see, the conference is shaping up well and promises to be an excellent experience by providing a space to examine, critique, and outline future directions in response to the dismal times we currently face. We have a number of great proposals already and will be accepting more for another few weeks.

REMEMBER: One of the main reasons people have cited for coming to previous conferences is the friendship and collegiality they have discovered in a group that draws together many different views, all of them critical and incisive—people worth meeting again and again.

There is still time to submit proposals for presentations/performances (deadline March 15).

For more details visit the conference web site or email conference coordinator Joe Bishop (

Monday, February 9, 2009

Changing Universities: Governance, Relevance, Performance

International Conference on
Changing Universities: Governance, Relevance, Performance
29 September – 2 October 2009
Istanbul, Turkey

Over the last couple of decades or so, higher education systems and, in particular, universities have become, notably in Europe as well as elsewhere, targets of attention and debate for change and reform. A host of external factors have been at play in shaping the discourses and actions with regard to changing universities. Within Europe, for example, policy statements such as the Bologna Accord, the Berlin Communiqué and the Lisbon Declaration have called for major reforms and re-orientations in higher education as a part of the broader vision of creating a European knowledge society. This has also been linked with expectations that universities should serve as engines of economic growth and national as well as regional competitiveness in the global marketplace. Concerns have therefore been expressed with regard to the relationships of universities with their external environments and the society at large. Business representatives have been demanding closer university-industry ties and research more relevant to their needs. Likewise, pressures have been mounting on providing education that is more responsive to the needs of the labour market. State authorities have joined in endorsing these demands. Moreover, these kinds of pressures have been coming at a time when public funding has been increasingly constrained and universities have been guided towards obtaining other sources of funds, leading, in some countries at least, to the encouragement of privately funded institutions. Concomitantly, there has been a greater concern with resource allocation to and within universities as well as their efficient use, resulting also in a broader discourse on and ensuing polices with respect to issues about accountability.

Altogether these kinds of pressures have resulted in the introduction of new policies and reform initiatives in the last two decades or so, though their timing, scale and pace has been variant across countries. National and organizational level governance systems have been altered, in some cases a number of times. New evaluation schemes have been introduced for assessing organizational, departmental and individual performance. Funding systems have been revisited, quite often in ways that not only attempt to make them performance-based but also to promote and encourage the acquisition of external funds. That these kinds of changes and the responses to them have and are being played out in institutionalized organizational fields has motivated not only practical but also academic interest in their implementation and outcomes. Likewise, that they have been internationally widespread, quite often with some reference to and justification based on North American models has generated debate around convergence as opposed to divergence sustained in many ways.

The above issues have been addressed for the last year or so within a project entitled MEHEM (Mapping European Higher Education Models), funded by the European Union and carried out by scholars from Sabanci University (Turkey), Oxford University (UK), University of Siena (Italy) and Uppsala University (Sweden) together with collaborators from Germany, France and Spain. The Istanbul Conference is organized as a part of this project and aims to bring together researchers from a broader range of institutions and countries with interests in the changes that have been taking place over the last couple of decades at universities, nationally, regionally and internationally. Papers are invited therefore on the following topics, though not exclusively limited to them, as submissions pertaining to related themes will also be considered:

• Changes in government regulation of higher education fields and universities.
• Changes in the composition of organizational level governing bodies and the selection of university leaders
• Changes in funding, particularly the degree to which market solutions is being introduced.
• Changes in the selection and promotion of faculty.
• The changing nature of university-industry relationships and their implications for the structuring and administration of universities.
• The implications of the increasing use of evaluations and rankings for higher education and universities.
• The implications of the changes that have been taking place on the structure of higher education fields and the role of universities with respect to the construction of national and international elites.

Both conceptual and empirical papers are invited. Empirical papers could be case studies of individual or a small number of organizations as well as larger scale quantitative investigations. Comparative research would be particularly welcome. One additional aim of the conference is to provide a platform for the production of an edited book.

Abstracts of around 500 words should be submitted through the MEHEM website ( latest by 31 May 2009. Authors will be notified about acceptance latest by the end of June. Some funds are available to cover travel and lodging expenses. Please do indicate any needs for funding when submitting your abstract.

Behlül Üsdiken, Sabanci University, Turkey
Lars Engwall, Uppsala University, Sweden
Carmelo Mazza, Grenoble EM, France
Paolo Quattrone, University of Oxford, UK
Angelo Riccaboni, University of Siena, Italy

See also this cfp here.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Learn about Comparative Critiques of the Neoliberal University

PhD students and researchers are welcome to apply for admission to our PhD
summer course on the topic of Comparative Critiques of the Neoliberal University.

More information about this course is found at:

The full course outline is found here:

Course objectives:
Given global market failures, the time is right to reconsider universities‚ relation to the market. Market fundamentalism assumes that universities must act entrepreneurially on a variety of fronts because a successful nation must have a technically educated workforce, science that emphasizes patents, spin off companies that create high technology products, which in turn create high paying jobs and a prosperous citizenry. Governments are expected to invest in science and engineering; students and their families are expected to pay more for higher education that will give graduates an advantage in the knowledge economy.
These relatively unexamined 'win-win' assumptions have guided policies and practices in neoliberal states and trading blocks.
This course will re-examine these policies and look at how they have played out in practices in countries around the world, with emphasis on the classic policy questions: who benefits, who pays? The course will focus to some degree on the United States because it is so highly marketized, and provides rich lessons about the problems of academic capitalism. However, readings will also cover the European Union, as well as specific European countries, and higher education in global context. The course will contribute to students‚ understanding of current policies and stimulate creative approaches to future policy development.

Location for the course is: Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Oslo, Norway
Time period: 27 - 31 July 2009.

Course lecturer is: Sheila Slaughter, Louise McBee Professor of Higher
Education, Institute of Higher Education, University of Georgia, USA

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Dreaming of public universities for the public

“Many of us who labour in the university do so because we believe (or hope) that it is somehow different than working for exploitative corporations. In the US, the ideal that citizens should receive free education – further extended through land-grant initiatives of the late 1800s that granted states federally controlled land for the express purpose of building universities to give access to and teach all citizens practical arts and the classics – allows us to believe that public universities are indeed for the public, and based on the mission of providing knowledge and resources for the public good. However, even those of us organizing during the strike quickly realized that mantras of ‘Keep the University of Minnesota Public’ were misguided as the University of Minnesota and most public institutions have never really been public and have systematically excluded groups. A liberal arts education, even in the paradigm of land-grant institutions, has always been defined as the knowledge of elites, thus we cannot continue thinking about the university as an idealistic space, or that there is something that we nostalgically want to return to. We cannot continue to fetishize the roles of students and faculty as pursuers of knowledge when it is clear that knowledge has a price and is marketed as a product. Clearly, we must redefine the space of the university, our labour, and the relations between workers. These are the parameters to build solidarity: all as workers differently situated in the same economic/factory system.”

- quote from:
Amy Pason “We Are All Workers: A Class Analysis of University Labour Strikes”, Ephemera, volume 8, number 3 (august 2008) (pdf file for article),
- an article in the new issue (8.3) of ephemera: theory & politics in organization entitled 'University, Failed' -- just released at
This issue is a call to discussion regarding the modern university, and what we seek to achieve with it is to highlight the discussions already taking place within the university, and to spurn on some new ones. Yet, as the entrance to today's Humboldt University tells us, such interpretation is not enough. What counts is change. Such change cannot, we believe, be achieved solely by the university itself. This insight creates huge challenges for other issues and interventions regarding the university of tomorrow: to open the discussion to other shareholders and constituencies within the knowledge factory, to pave ground for other residuals, where a university may take place.
Where are these places? And what do 'the people' – the students, the politicians, the medias, the immigrants, the elderly, the people – want with the university? Underneath the seductive toasts and touching speeches that the university enjoys again and again, unmistakable signs of mistrust secrete. A dialogue about this mistrust (which dwells well, also, within the university itself) may be what lies ahead, meshed up with the ongoing grand failure of the university.
Journal’s special issue site; download the whole special issue.