David Yamada is here discussing an important topic, that is, the “McDonaldization” of American businesses and institutions, in this case, colleges and universities. I share his concerns. Please visit his site and read not just this article but appreciate the depth of his knowledge in workplace issues.
As U.S. universities embrace the New Gilded Age, what institutions will help us to grow a better society? « Minding the Workplace
Of course, the fate of the public intellectual in higher education has been a subject of debate for some time now, especially since the 1987 appearance of Russell Jacoby’s important book, The Last Intellectuals: American Culture in the Age of Academe. Among other things, Jacoby posited that sharp trends toward narrow specialization in academic scholarship were creating a professoriate that is less relevant to the major public issues of the day.
Yup, one could argue that part-time college teaching jobs, unpaid internships, “non-stipendiary” fellowships, and assorted volunteer gigs offer outlets for expression and creativity. And between individual blogs, sites like The Huffington Post, and free websites, there’s no shortage of online venues for publishing or sharing one’s work.
The problem is that most people have this weird need for food, shelter, and clothing. “Exposure” and “contacts” don’t pay for those basic necessities. A little bit of job security wouldn’t hurt either.
During the coming months, I will devote some space to exploring this and related questions, incorporating a variety of new and emerging voices on public intellectual life in this plutocratic, New Gilded Age. In doing so, I’ll be talking about educators, researchers, activists, practitioners, writers, artists, and others who share a common, understandable concern that our society has no place for them.
As a central part of this inquiry, we need to consider strategies for change. Is it possible to reverse the bad course taken by so many standard-brand universities? Or do we have to think about creating new, sustainable entities that embrace a different, better set of values? If so, how do we go about this?
From around the web.
From the web site, The Homeless Adjunct.
It’s been too long since I’ve written here on The Homeless Adjunct blog, but I am back and ready to move forward. The silence was caused by a particularly hard year of never-ending job searching. Two of my three adjunct teaching jobs disappeared, leaving me with barely 30% of what was already a poverty level income. I suspect that this has had something to do with my outspokenness on the issue of adjunct labor abuse, but as those of you working on contingency contracts all know far too well — there is simply no way to definitively prove such retaliation. And after a year of falling victim to the severe trauma that we adjuncts are always facing, I have gotten myself back up, and have determined that I won’t let myself be silenced by poverty, or fear. While it has certainly proven to be an effective tactic, it can only be effective if we allow it to take our spirit along with our income. It’s pretty clear that this is a Braveheart moment, where I either continue to fight against tyranny — and the corporatized university is a tyrannical institution — or I let them win.
And thanks to the Scottish warrior blood in my veins, I choose to fight.