PROGRAM (Friday/Saturday/Sunday)

(To read ABSTRACTS of the presentations, click on the presenters' names.)

 

Thursday, April 23

7:30 – 10:00pm

Welcome at the Kitty Kat Club for those who arrive early (location: 315 14th Avenue SE • Minneapolis, MN)

 

Friday, April 24

Location: Nolte Hall, room #140 (map here)

9:00 – 9:30am

Welcome and Opening Comments (Morgan Adamson, Noah Ebner, Elizabeth Johnson, Isaac Kamola, Stephen Koskela, Eli Meyerhoff, Sofi Shank, Matt Stoddard)

9:45 – 11:00am

Panel :: Organizing Contingent Faculty :: (chair: John Conley, U of MN)

Bob Hanke, (York University, CUPE) - "Ten Theses on the York University Strike"

Catherine Daligga, (U of Michigan, AFT), Lecturers' Employee Organization

Catherine Guisan, (U of MN) - "Contingency vs. Freedom? False Consciousness and the Adjunct Faculty Member”

11:15am – 12:15pm

Workshop ::Worker Education Forum::

Carrie Wadman, Lee Abbott, Royal Bonde-Griigs, Erik Chandler (UW-Milwaukee)

12:15 – 1:15pm

Catered Lunch

1:15 – 2:30pm

Roundtable ::“Drifting invitation…”::

Tim Stallmann and Liz Mason-Deese (of the UNC Counter Cartography Collective)

2:45 – 4:00pm

Paper Sessions :: “Reworking the Academic Profession” :: (chair: Matt Stoddard, U of MN)

Frank Donoghue, (Ohio State) - "The Right Placement Questions"

Heather Steffen, (CMU) - "Student Internships as Class War"

Fernando Calderon & Jecca Namakkal, (U of MN) - "Reconsidering Subjectivities: The Politics of Brown Identity and the Writing of History"

Kara Spaulding, (Ohio State) - "Is Collegiality Tenure's Version of the Participation Grade?"

4:15 - 5:30pm

Panel :: What Does It Take To Win?::

Sofi Shank (organizer)

Noah Ebner, U of Minnesota

Isaac Kamola, U of Minnesota

Tom Lenius, U of Minnesota, Living Wage Avengers

August Nimtz, U of Minnesota

Jess Sundin, U of Minnesota, AFSCME 3800

Others, TBD

5:30 – 6:45pm

Paper Session :: “Reworking the Neoliberal University” :: (chair: Courtney Helgoe, U of MN)

John Mowitt, (U of MN) - "On the Concept of Reworking"

Paolo Do, (Edu-factory) - "The Double Crisis of University: or We Won't Pay for Your Crisis"

Catherine Liu, (UC Irvine) - "Neo-populism, the Meritocracy and the University"

Tom Haakenson, (MCAD) - "Interdisciplinary Collaborative Courses (ICC): Possibilities from an Art and Design College"

John Wilson - "Academic Freedom and the Military on Campus"

Morgan Adamson, (U of MN) - "Flexibility and Interdisciplinarity in the Neo-Liberal University"

7:15 – on

Reception in the IAS Lobby :: With Brian Mann Film.

 

Saturday, April 25

Location for 9:00am-2:00pm: Nolte Hall, room #140 (map here)

Location for 2:00pm-7:30pm: Nicholson Hall, room #155 (map)

9:15 – 10:15am

Roundtable :: Sites and Specifics -- an opportunity to share and learn from the details and differences of local struggles ::

Randall Cohn, (George Mason - panel organizer)

Michael Andregg, (St. Thomas University)

Ruth Voights, (Minnesota College of Art and Design)

 

10:30 – 11:45am

Panel :: Strategies for Fighting the Corporatization of Education: Lessons from The Nonstop Liberal Arts Institute (formerly Antioch University)::

Jean Gregorek- Taking on the Corporate University: The Turn to the Local and the Practice of the Nonstop Liberal Arts Institute

Tim Noble - Learning from Disaster: Building a Communication Infrastructure from Zero Using FLOSS (Free/Libre/Open Source Software)

12:00 – 1:00pm

Roundtable :: Teachers Against Occupation ::

Bruce Braun, Simona Sawhney, and Vinay Gidwani (U of MN)

1:00 – 2:00pm

Catered Lunch

2:00 – 3:15pm (in Nicholson Hall, room #155 (map here))

Workshop :: “Radical Intellectual Collectives” ::

Eli Thorkelson (U Chicago)

Andrew Yale (U Chicago)

Liz Mason-Deese and Tim Stallman, UNC, Counter-Cartographies Collective

others TBD

3:30 – 4:45pm

Panel :: “Tactical Teaching” ::

Nick Hengen, (U of MN)

Lucia Pawlowski, (U of MN)

Bruce Simon, (SUNY Fredonia)

Heather Steffen, (Carnegie Mellon)


5:00 – 6:15pm

Roundtable :: “Edu-Factory and Oppositional Knowledges" ::

Anna Curcio, Duke University

Liz Mason-Deese and Tim Stallman, UNC, Counter-Cartographies Collective

Bob Hanke, York University, CUPE

David Boehnke, Experimental College of the Twin Cities

Others TBD

6:30 – 7:30pm

Workshop / Panel :: “Working Through and Beyond the New School Occupation” ::

The New School Radical Student Union

7:30pm – on

Walk to Art Installation :: “Education & Community: Engaging Public Space & Invigorating the Local Installation” and to Reception in Nolte Hall

Chris Hill, Michael Casselli (gallery talk - The Nonstop LIberal Arts Institute)

*Reception: Nolte Hall

 

Sunday, April 26

Location: Nolte Hall, room #140 (map here)

9:00 – 10:15am

Collective Composition of a Manifesto (click here to brainstorm ideas for it before the conference)

10:30 – 11:30am

Workshop :: “Pedagogies of inquiry and everyday teaching practices” ::

Naomi Adiv (CUNY)

11:45am – 1:00pm

Panel :: “Reworking the Classroom—Breaking Through the Standards of Working-Class Students" ::

Gregory McCoy, "Democratizing a Teacher’s Authority—Shifting Power from the Teacher to the Student"

John Russo, "Deconstructing the Expectations of Instructors and Their Working-Class Students"

Brittani Lenz, "A Look at Working-Class Approaches to Homework"

1:00 – 2:00pm

Catered Lunch

2:00 - 3:15pm

Panel :: “The Experimental College of the Twin Cities” :: David Boehnke, Aaron Rosenblum, Miriam Larson, Eli Meyerhoff, and Amy Pason

3:30 - 4:00pm

Wrap–up and Closing Remarks

 

[To see the program from last year's conference, Rethinking the University, click here]

Abstracts of the Presentations

Friday, April 24

9:45 – 11:00am
Panel :: Organizing Contingent Faculty ::

On November 6th , 2008, CUPE 3903 representing 3400 teaching assistants, contract faculty and graduate assistants at York University began an 11-week legal strike that ended when the Liberal McGuinty government passed back to work legislation. This paper explores this strike against academic precarity and the union’s communication strategy, with attention to new media practices and cyberactivism. On the one hand, communication innovation was limited by centralized press release and spokesperson strategy and collective bargaining protocol. On the other hand, innovation within the unit representing contract faculty enabled all three units of this local to withstand the university’s media relations machine and stand in unity against a forced ratification vote. Unfortunately, this pan-unit victory was short-lived and was no match for a two-pronged attack against the democratic right to collective bargaining. Internally, anti-CUPE tenured professors, managerial intransigence and a university president advised by  union-busting lawyers breached the duty to bargain in “good faith.” Outside the neoliberal university, premier  McGuinty, under pressure from the opposition party and public opinion primed by the dominant framing of the strike in the mainstream media, sent in his “top” mediator--for one day. On January 24th , McGuinty dropped any concerns about court challenges to back to work legislation and proclaimed that a “clear deadlock” existed. With the passage of Bill 145– the York University Labour Disputes Resolution Act–on January 29th , the “education premier” completed the attack on collective bargaining begun by York’s academic managerial class and set a dangerous precedent for the university sector.

Arendt equates political power with “action in concert.” Yet she stresses the Socratic inner dialogue, which shapes political judgment especially in times of crisis. This presentation discusses this inner dialogue, which frees the adjunct faculty member to engage in creative and critical actions from a position of insecurity. It discusses also the emotional and financial burdens imposed on contingent faculty, and creative ways to challenge the academic ideology that presents such inequalities as normal and natural.

11:15am – 12:15pm
Conceptualizing “WEF”: Worker Education Forums (WEF) and the UW-M Newspaper for Worker Democracy
Carrie Wadman, Lee Abbott, Royal Bonde-Griigs, Erik Chandler (UW-Milwaukee)

This workshop stresses interactivity: joint interrogation, mutual understanding, and shared goal development of campus worker organizing. The purpose of the workshop is to generate as much understanding as possible in the time provided of the issues involved in campus worker radicalization and to facilitate participants' development of similar projects at their home institutions, with the ultimate goal to link all these projects for greater solidarity. Additionally, the organizers hope to receive careful feedback to fold back into the projects. The workshop will begin with an introduction to the UW-Milwaukee Worker Education Forum (WEF), its related publication, and a brief history of campus labor organizing at UW-M. The forums were organized by academic activists as spaces to generate worker dialogue across campus among all its workers, unionized and non-unionized instructional, clerical, and custodial staff, teaching assistants, faculty, and undergraduate labor. The newspaper began as a tool to explore themes that arose at the forums, create interest in them, and generally to expose administrative hypocrisy and anti-worker efforts on campus. 

Workshop participants will be provided copies of the newspaper and additional handouts that describe our projects, as well as documents the organizers hope will focus participation around exploring the political and philosophical questions pertaining our work in addition to documents offering practical guides to getting similar efforts underway. Some of the questions participants will explore:  1) how we, as workers, might attempt to use our positions in academia to responsibly and reflectively engage in social action, 2) using our experiences to (re)value different kinds of work in the academy, and 3) using this space and our collaborations to look ahead, plan coalitions for future action, and devise ways to extend our collaborations, and 4) carefully and critically consider what it might mean to create a space wherein to view the university as a place that houses diverse labor (and compensations); what advantages, challenges or complexities might be involved in this sort of attempt?  After the brief presentation opening the workshop, organizers will facilitate dialogue over the handouts provided and solicit specific kinds of feedback geared toward the workshop's purpose (stated above), as well as encourage the development of participants' own projects.   We will also address the following, through dialogue and through some of the handouts: other organizations that can help in linking our efforts, such as Workers Independent News (WIN) and the related Forward! News Network, both out of Madison, WI; how radicalizing workers involves maintaining perspective over the long haul across shifting agents; some of our considerations in developing an editorial mission for the newspaper; and how to avoid the pitfalls of business unionism, with some of our ideas to continually re-imagine anti-capitalist, social justice, organizing models of labor groups.

1:15 – 2:30pm
Drifting invitation...           
Tim Stallmann and Liz Mason-Deese  (Counter Cartographies Collective - UNC)

Three years ago, as the Counter Cartographies Collective, we started a campaign to challenge common notions of higher education and research.  Over our years at this university, we had been told: that it was an ivory tower, a site of pure knowledge production; that there were thick glass panes between our classes and the real world; that we were being educated as 'global citizens'; that we should work to change the world, but that to do so we had to travel far outside of our own worlds.  We decided to ask ourselves what the university would be like if none, and all, of those things were true. As part of the Rethinking the University campaign, we began to ask "Hey -- what is a university, really?", and working to open up the everyday life of this university as a site of social struggle.  Seeing UNC as a site of struggle means understanding that the university is not an 'ivory tower', but part of the global and local knowledge economy: the university labors, produces knowledge and value, trains economic subjects, receives state and corporate funding. The university is a group of people that eat and drink and sleep, and we are some of those people.  We invite you to join us in engaging and understanding this university. Read on to see what that might mean...


The Ivory Tower Myth  --  In higher education, political struggles are frequently displaced onto other sites: the university does ‘only’ research and teaching; politics only occurs outside of the university. Activism is permitted as long as it takes as its object something far away.  We cannot assume the university is separate from the 'real world'.  It is a mystical place of work, but not labor; knowledge, but not power.  Such a university would be stale, of little redeeming social value …and a fantasy.  Yet, when we emphasize the university's connectedness and complicity in these faraway struggles (from sweatshop labor to the Iraq war), we are repressed or brushed aside. What is at stake?  We are told our demands must wait. We are flooded with emails and news stories about the newest economic crisis, warned about funding cuts and job freezes, told about government bailouts and failing industries. Unemployment in North Carolina is at its highest since 1983. But who is bailing out whom? Who is cutting jobs and who is left unemployed? What does it mean to us, in our daily lives and the things we care about, to be in an economic crisis? At the same time, in the midst of crisis, we are enacting and reaffirming ways of being otherwise, networks of mutual aid, practices of sustainable living, spaces for collective research. How might we highlight and strengthen these practices? Drifting through a University in Crisis UNC is precarious – employing ever increasing amounts of precarious labor and training students for a lifetime of precarious work. UNC is migrant – undocumented construction workers, international graduate students monitored by Homeland security, top level researchers in the US on special visas. To explore these aspects of the university, the ways in which the university and our lives are in crisis, we propose a series of drifts. French Situationalists developed the derive to explore the psychogeography of the urban terrain by "letting go" and wandering through the city. Today social movements and feminist groups use the derive to critically examine the spaces and trajectories of everyday life while simultaneously enacting new geographies. Drifting, to us, means engaging in a collective and intentional process of investigating our worlds while weaving together new imaginaries. Drifts are collective and purposeful trips through space, through memory or through emotion. In a drift we travel by foot, bike, bus or car through the everyday spaces we inhabit, stopping to ask each other and ourselves "What does this mean? How would we like it to be?". We invite you to participate in this drifting experience with us. All we ask of you is to be willing to share your daily life and to learn from others, a passion for exploring the local community and a commitment to creating other ways of inhabiting it.  

 

2:45 – 4:00pm
Paper Sessions ::Reworking the Academic Profession” ::

As a participant in last year’s Rethinking the U, I look forward to participating in this year’s sequel conference.  I would like to deliver a version of a paper that I gave at the last MLA Convention.  The paper responds to the ADE Task Force’s Report on Staffing, published online on December 10, 2008.  The Report, as I read it, represents a significant revision of the kinds of questions the ADE and the MLA has traditionally asked about job placement in English and Foreign Languages.  As I have argued in a recent book, the associations have focused narrowly on Ph.D.s in search of tenure-track jobs, while the reality of the job system is that English and Foreign Language departments increasingly draw on a large pool of ABD job seekers to fill adjunct teaching positions.  The Task Force Report, for the first time (officially at least) acknowledges this trend, but does not reimagine the questions we now have to ask about placement.                              
  I believe we need to ask and try very hard to answer two:  first, Where are our Ph.D.s five years after graduation?  And second, What is happening to our ABDs?  We need to acknowledge both that the job search is now a multi-year process and that untenured faculty tend to move very frequently during the first few years after graduation.  We need to grant new Ph.D.s a five-year period of professional turmoil, and find out where they are once the dust has settled.  We also need to do a much better job of keeping track of our ABDs, those students who are “out of funding” from their home institutions, and thus cobbling together some kind of life in academia.   Our profession and its member departments tolerate a scandalous rate of late-stage attrition from Ph.D. programs, yet all the while we continue to admit new students.  Collectively, we need to do a better job of mentoring students once they have finished their coursework.  These questions are mere starting points, and I don’t have answers to them, but they are in the spirit of the ADE and MLA’s new line of thought about placement.  I hope that this paper, still not fully worked out, is in the spirit of the Reworking the U theme.

About 80 percent of graduating college seniors have worked as interns at some point on their way to a degree.  As many as 50 percent of these internships do not pay their workers, and many companies and colleges want students to get (as a so-called bonus) course credit for their internship hours—so students get caught actually paying universities to work for free at a different site.  This paper will present my research about student internships and their increase over the last few decades.  Then I will offer some comments on questions raised by the facts about student internships: What does this labor system teach undergraduates about the value of their work?  How does it function as yet another barrier to class mobility for working-class or lower-income students?  And what responsibility and possibilities do teachers (read: recommendation writers) and other academic personnel have to make internships more equitable and just and to protect our students from an exploitative system that we in part enable?

The social construction of race has been so ingrained in academic discourse and pedagogy that the material and political realities of institutional racism have all but disappeared from the collective academic consciousness. Yet, graduate students and faculty “of color” are consistently asked to contribute to the ethnic diversity of departments, lending their racial and cultural authenticity to the usual “white” homogeneity of academic departments. In this way, the academy has been claiming a certain “colorblindness” through professional/ disciplinary training. For example, a student of any racial or ethnic background can enter a History doctoral program, participate in the professional (“objective”) training to become a historian, and then proceed to conduct “objective” research in any part of the world, no matter their personal identity (i.e. racial and or/ ethnic background.) Yet, diversity programs and the social and academic capital attached to the notion of authenticity encourage graduate students of color to pursue topics/specialties that reflect their personal identity. Their skin color, accent, cultural markers, and/or family history lends an authenticity to their work that helps academic programs attract new students, as well as reflects well on the diversity, or non-whiteness, of a particular department. In this paper we argue that graduate programs encourage students to view their racial identity as a commodity – something that can help them on the job market, implying that while their work may not be as objective (and thus less academic) as their white colleagues, their racial authenticity will give them an advantage on the market. This can be seen through the proliferation of competitive fellowships, the bread and butter of graduate research, which often earmark money for “underrepresented minorities.” These competitive fellowships often encourage students of color to present projects that reflect their personal identity (something that is not asked of white students applying for fellowships). This focus on the racial identity of students flies in the face of academic claims that academic training strips away the subjectivity of the historian, and specifically of their racial identity. The concrete power of these subjectivities often becomes painfully clear once the trained historian goes into the field to conduct research/field work, and must confront the perceptions of themselves carried by the people whose past they are studying. It is at this contact point in the field, when the researchers history (the personal history attached to the subject) meets the production of History (the objective history of the Academy), that the subjectivity of the historian should be reconsidered.

Collegiality is a troubled term, on the level of definition as well as on the level of practice. Indeed, collegiality‟s precarious definitional status—the fact that in any given situation, collegiality can mean any number of shifting (and often contradictory) things— leads to its practical ambiguity. To operate within what is purported to be the bounded parameters of collegiality is oftentimes to operate within a concept that lacks established, stable boundaries. This lack of clarity is especially problematic in that, like the participation grade, collegiality is regularly used as a means of assessment (if not explicitly, then in more implicit but nevertheless consequential ways). In this paper, I take up collegiality‟s precarious status as a means of interrogating both the ways we, as academics, find ourselves constrained by this ambiguity, and how we operate within this
constraint.
I first establish collegiality‟s place within academia, using as evidence examples
from recent history that point to our own uncertainty in practicing within collegiality's shifting borders. Our troubled relationship with the concept of collegiality is necessitated by its lack of a clear and far-reaching definition; indeed, in recent years both the MLA and the AAUP have published documents which discourage the application of collegiality “standards” precisely due to its elusiveness. Using this definitional elusiveness as a base, I then approach the ways in which those of us who fall within collegiality‟s purview function within its confines. Focusing here on both “real life” as well as literary examples, I argue that the relationship between academic and collegiality is most often navigated my means of performance. For example, in Cheryl Ball‟s “From „They Call Me Doctor‟ to Tenure: A Brief Introduction”—an text intended to provide advice to those in tenure-track positions on how to successfully manage and foster colleague connections—Ball focuses on the necessity of visuality for successful academic relationships. Furthermore, I call attention to literary examples, such as Richard Russo‟s Straight Man and Martin Amis‟s Lucky Jim, which also highlight the ways in which we are oftentimes compelled to employ elements of performance in order to function within the concept of collegiality.
By focusing on collegiality‟s lack of stability and the way this lack requires us to
navigate an unfamiliar and sometimes dangerous course, I hope to call attention to the need for an awareness, a self-consciousness, and a transparency within academic
spaces—institutional, departmental, individual—that I would argue is still noticeably absent from the greater portion of academic environments.

4:15 – 5:30pm
Panel :: What Does It Take To Win?

Sofi Shank (panel organizer)

Noah Ebner, U of Minnesota

Isaac Kamola, U of Minnesota

Tom Lenius, U of Minnesota, Living Wage Avengers

August Nimtz, U of Minnesota

Jess Sundin, U of Minnesota, AFSCME 3800

Others, TBD

Faced with the fact that the University of Minnesota’s administration has become wholly unaccountable to the demands and desires of workers, students, faculty, the legislature, and the broader public of Minnesota, this panel will examine the question of how transformation (reclamation) can be achieved through a sustained engagement with the objective conditions quickly unfolding at the U. In this regard, those seeking to resist the University's current corporate trajectory are faced with both an opportunity and challenge in the current economic crisis. We will center our conversations around a series of community struggles that have occurred at the University over the past ten years; the AFSCME Strike in 2003, the fight to save the General College, the Grad Student Organizing (GradTRAC) campaign in 2005, the second AFSCME strike in 2007, the student solidarity hunger strike in 2007, and the present efforts at organizing a grad student union. By examining prior histories, we will attempt to establish continuity between these struggles in order to understand the logic behind previous defeats and successes, shaping a clearer vision of how to move forward. In short, we will address the question, “what will it take to win?” as a starting point for the struggles ahead.

5:30 – 6:45pm
Paper Session ::Reworking the Neoliberal University” ::

That “great crisis” that hits the global economy since 2007, is at the same time the crisis of a particular neoliberal working of university itself, where the `deficit spending` is passed to the private sector, and the logic of student debt is the pivotal financial tool for the economy’s university. But beside of this aspect, the word `crisis` of the university reveals the crisis of the classical distinction between private and public space. The corporatization of the university itself passes through the space of the public: the public is no longer the alternative to private, but is the way for the corporatization of the university through the logic of cost-benefit,  for profit, and casualization of the workforce. In consequence, the fight against corporatization of the university means not merely to defend the public space. The resistance goes beyond this classical dichotomy public/private, or state/corporate. Resistance inside of the university, resistance to the corporatization means building up an Autonomous Institution of Common.  
 Beyond these classical dichotomies there is also a new role of the university in cognitive capitalism. The university today is immediately a productive dispositive, is an edu-factory in the new capitalistic accumulation where the knowledge is more and more important as a productive tool. We are passed from the classical mechanism of exclusion/inclusion to a dispositive of ‘differential inclusion’: the edu-factory produces a hierarchy of the workforce where the classical figure of student exists no longer. Today it is through the process of inclusion that the command builds up the hierarchy of the workforce. It is through knowledge and its quality where capitalistic command works. In this way the measure of knowledge becomes the new exploitation of living labor, and meritocracy the new battlefield of the declasement of living knowledge.       

   My presentation, titled "Interdisciplinary Collaborative Courses (ICC): Possibilities from an Art and Design College," examines the efforts of
four-year (B.F.A.) art and design schools to rethink the curriculum across disciplinary boundaries, most notably between the studio curriculum and the liberal arts curriculum.  Interdisciplinary Collaborative Courses
(ICC) allow for individuals to teach individual courses but involve cooperative assignments and activities across two (or more) courses operating in the same semester.  The courses, set to run in the beta phase
in the fall 2009, will allow individual instructors to work with their cross-disciplinary colleagues in unique, creative, and expansive ways. The ICC model thus rephrases the idea of "the discipline" using
outcomes-based assessment rather than content-based assessment.  The result is that those involved see knowledge production as a process of cross-disciplinary and extra-institutional engagement, rather than as
isolated encounters in the classroom inherently separate from "real world" experiences.
    The inability to transcend disciplinary boundaries in more traditional four-year colleges and universities, despite the late-20th century promises of "interdisciplinary," have significantly impeded collaborative, cross-disciplinary curricula and led many institutions to enact a reactionary retrenchment in the false security of the disciplinary model. The collaborative, cross-disciplinary possibilities that exist in the context of art and design colleges have direct application for our rethinking of the notions of "labor" and "education" at all institutions of higher education. In particular, by actively engaging the notion of "the discipline" and working with, through, and around it, universities and colleges of art and design can provide a model for creative problem
solving and integrative learning.  The ICC thus can speak to a renewed sense of commonality among educators, students, and administrators in ways that are significantly impeded in the current disciplinary configurations at most institutions of higher education.

This paper intends to explore how the push towards
interdisciplinarity in the past thirty years is a symptom of the reconfiguration of the university into the digital mode of business management, exemplifying the transformations Gilles Deleuze calls the “breakdown of interiors” within control societies.
Deleuze finds the of methods of control in education to be exemplified by the model of “continuing education” and “continuous assessment;”  in fact, he sees the
introduction of a business model into the university system as precipitating a “move away from any research in universities.”  Time has illustrated, however, that the opposite is true. Research remains crucial in shaping the role of the university in contemporary capitalism, though both the concept and function of research have been transformed. The breakdown of the interior that was the university also includes the breakdown of various interiors within the institution: the classical disciplines. My paper looks at the proliferation of "interdisciplinary iniciatives," specifically those put forward by the U of MN's "Strategic Positioning" plan, in light of the rise in what are called "human capital markets" in finance capitalism that feed from flexible academic labor. Also, I argue that the promotion of interdisciplinary work insideously helps the U to supress wages.

8:15pm – on
Reception :: With Brian Mann Film.

Saturday, April 25

9:15 - 10:15am

Roundtable :: Sites and Specifics -- an opportunity to share and learn from the details and differences of local struggles

The premise of this roundtable is straightforward, and emerges from a frustration at last year's conference that, as exciting and important as many of the practical discussions about organizing were, they were focused on a particular site that ultimately has very little in common -- or at least has important differences -- from the site(s) where I teach and go to school. Differences in state labor laws, institutional structures, student culture, and local history -- to name a few things -- all make the language about the neoliberal university and the necessary solidarity among stakeholders to transform it ring somewhat hollow. In light of that frustration, I would like to create an opportunity for scholars, teachers, students, and staff working in sites with obstacles unique to their circumstance to discuss their struggles and share strategies for overcoming them. I am particularly interested in including people working in community colleges, commuter schools, small liberal arts or specialty colleges, and institutions located in right to work states and other locations that have been traditionally hostile to organized labor.

 

10:30 – 11:45am
Panel :: Strategies for Fighting the Corporatization of Education: Lessons from The Nonstop Liberal Arts Institute ::

As many recent critics of higher education in the United States have noted (Slaughter and Leslie, Nelson, Bousquet, Giroux, and many others), the corporatized or 'managed' university that has emerged in the past three decades has seriously eroded the participation of faculty, staff, and students and has resulted in increasingly homogenized learning environments. Both state-supported and private institutions have succumbed to ideological and economic pressures to "aggressively promote the alignment of human initiative with business interest", in Randy Martin's words.  Perhaps the primary effect of this has been the ongoing commodification of the learning experience via such now-familiar strategies as the exploitation of adjunct and graduate student labor, the packaging of distance learning courses and the privatization of intellectual property.  The faculty and staff of Antioch College confronted the inevitable outcome of 'managed' university logic when the Antioch University Board of Trustees closed the historic college in June of 2008, severing all faculty and staff contracts, yet choosing to maintain the other campuses of the University which do not have a tenure system. Antioch University's vocationally-oriented training and reliance on adjunct labor is a perfect example of this managerial direction, as is its deliberate elimination of faculty, student, and to a large extent, staff participation in curriculum and policy in its remaining units.  
However, the Antioch College faculty, staff, students and alumni fought back. Instead of dispersing to other educational institutions, most faculty and staff decided to remain in the Village of Yellow Springs and create our own college, an alternative educational institution we first named Antioch-in-Exile, and then, in response to a threatened lawsuit from Antioch University, dubbed the Nonstop Liberal Arts Institute. The Nonstop Liberal Arts Institute continues to be a work-in-progress, part protest movement, part educational think-tank, part holding tank for the progressive traditions and historical memory of Antioch College as alumni negotiate to purchase the College from its corporate owner. Central to our educational philosophy is the assumption that education is an inherently social process with an inherently social mission; we thus resist the reduction of knowledge to commodity and refuse the logic of informationalized, on-demand course delivery systems.  We have expanded Antioch College's form of community governance, abolishing administrative positions (now held collectively by three faculty, who rotate), installed pay equity, and fore grounded democratic participation.  Our curricular innovations have come both from necessity (our classes meet in churches, coffee shops, the houses of Village residents) and from our deliberate attempt to apply the insights of recent movements for relocalization and bioregionalism to our educational project.  This curricular and philosophic turn to the local has been inspired by larger concerns about environmental sustainability in the face of global climate change and resource depletion and the efforts of particular environmental groups in the Village of Yellow Springs.  We consciously set out to design interdisciplinary academic courses, linked courses, workshops, speaker series, arts events, and joint projects aimed at meeting the needs and interests of members of the Village of all ages, as well as of traditional-aged students.  Following the network-organization models of bioregionalist and 'slow food' movements, Nonstop seeks a more dialogical and sustainable relationship to land, place, and the surrounding local community.  Drawing strength from the local and the small-scale is a response to the standardization and homogeneity which accompanies the imposition of economies of scale, and, in our deliberate revaluation of academic labor in its many forms, fights the powerlessness of the typical employees of the managed university. So far at least, Nonstop has successfully explored new educational territory as it strives to promote cosmopolitan subjects attuned to the specificities and needs of their local contexts.

   In terms of the state of technology, the exile of the Antioch College community could not have come at a better time. Ten years ago, the speed and complexity of the organizing that erupted in the aftermath of the announcement of the College's closure would have been impossible. As an anti-corporate resistance movement, and as a fledgling educational enterprise started from the ground up, the Nonstop Liberal Arts Institute is absolutely reliant on email, simple website- management software, and cheap digital media processing that enables the sharing of live audio streams and video sharing. It is inconceivable that such a counterforce of alumni and academics could have been marshaled using only simple phone trees and postcards.
After the websites were built and the wikis and email lists assembled, this organizing (at some points reaching several hundred listserv posts per day) led directly to a physical manifestation of the Antioch campus in Exile, the Nonstop Institute. As we moved into a 3-bedroom house late last summer and then into our new headquarters, a green renovation of an industrial space, we were forced to build and evolve the local communications infrastructure to support Nonstop's needs.  Our goals in building Nonstop's communications infrastructure have been several-fold:
• To get up and running as quickly as possible using sharply limited resources
• Not to tie ourselves to expensive, proprietary solutions which would limit our mobility if better solutions become available
• To embrace the opportunity to re-imagine accessible, flexible, open-source technology systems for future educational use; and to not make the same consultant-driven, costly and misguided investments made by Antioch College
• To become the first private college in the US to become entirely open source from the desktop to the servers
• To develop systems that can be seamlessly transferred to a reopened Antioch College
• To support/facilitate Antioch's particular form of highly-personal pedagogy without pushing it in the direction of "distance learning" or imposing technology for technology's sake.
To achieve these goals, we have rehabbed surplus computers from other local universities, gathered donated machines and generally made do with what was available, installing Ubuntu, the most popular and arguably easiest to use Linux distribution. Along with OpenOffice instead of MSOffice, Asterisk for the phone system and Koha for our library and inventory management, our solutions have been open source wherever possible.  With less than $20,000 in non-salary tech expenses so far, we have supported this embryonic educational program with robust and sustainable systems that can unplug and plug back in across town to become the core infrastructure of an independent Antioch College.

12:00 – 1:00pm
Roundtable :: Teachers Against Occupation ::

2:00 – 3:15
Workshop :: Reworking Radical Intellectual Collectives ::

We propose a workshop that will examine and maybe, in a small way, even encourage the formation of radical intellectual collectivities. Some, like Nate Holdren, argue that radical scholarship is next to impossible, observing that universities tend not to reward the creation of politically relevant knowledge. We think, though, that in spite of the worrisome historical trajectories of the university in general, there remains space within it for new social, intellectual and political formations to come into being, formations that bring the intellectual and the political together in ways that we need, both to avoid the reproduction of unworkable politics (not everything falls in the scope of a trade union or a rowdy street protest) and to avoid intellectual stagnation in our political organization. The question then arises: what are the social and historical conditions that favor the emergence of such intellectual collectivities? How do they work and what keeps them in existence? What is the relationship between intellectuals who theorize and activists who organize (or, for that matter, activists who theorize and intellectuals who organize)? What kinds of long-term, mutual attentions and commitments favor the development of new ways of thinking and intervening in the world? What kinds of new languages, images and media are effective channels for such work? What might we do to make the means and processes of academic and intellectual work more congruent with our (admittedly various) ethical and political aims?    

In this workshop we propose something like a jointly moderated discussion of these radical intellectual/political collectivities. We would begin by laying out the basic issues we want to explore and by presenting a number of initial cases from our own research and experience. We would then ask the audience to contribute cases of their own (if possible, we would like to request people to show up with a case in mind). We would particularly hope to talk over a number of basic issues that seem central to such collective formations: 1) Their material circumstances -- source of financial resources, of institutional support, of time and space; (2) Their organization of group membership and belonging, of producing organizational and historical continuity; (3) Their relations to larger ideological projects and historical contexts (eg, the Frankfurt School's relation to marxism, women's studies' relations to the women's movement); (4) The way they create, sustain and sometimes destroy relations between members (practically every famous case eventuates in some kind of internal fracture); (5) The nature of their compromises with institutional demands and social circumstance, i.e., what did they have to give up to get by, what dissonances arose between their aspirational visions and the reality of their work; (6) and last but not least, the relations between these collectivities and their audiences, constituencies or publics, with particular attention to the relations between graduate student unions and university pedagogy.    

We would begin by focusing on some intellectual collectivities that we have experienced or that seem historically intriguing: the Frankfurt School in Germany, the Situationist International in France, the Counter Cartographies Collective at UNC, the Graduate Students United in Chicago, and perhaps an engaged journal like the Minnesota Review or Radical Teacher. We would also plan to give out a flier to the audience with some brief histories of these cases, and some basic conceptual and historical questions, to facilitate group conversation. We then hope to encourage participants to share both concrete experience and utopian ideals, the goal being to leave with a better collective understanding of how such groups can be brought into being in our own local, institutional circumstances. Those of us who come from nascent grad student labor unions are particularly interested in examining the intellectual work that is produced in those contexts. Of course, it would be silly to imagine that new intellectual collectivities will magically emerge from this workshop, but we would like to model their conditions of emergence in the discussion to whatever extent is possible.

3:30 – 4:45pm
Panel :: Tactical Teaching: How to Teach the University ::

   This roundtable will ideally be peopled by those who have "taught the university"--a popular, but vague term While the panel might work towards a definition about what teaching the university is and why it's important, the real goal would be to discuss the mechanics of this pedagogy. I envision four people each taking 10 minutes or so to share how they taught the university with a focus on specific writing/research assignments, discussion prompts, readings, and thematic clusters. For this audience, it should do two things: (1) give politically-committed teachers more tools when they return to their classrooms and (2) introduce teachers (future teachers) to teaching the university, providing both rationales and tools.

 

5:00 – 6:15pm
Roundtable :: Edu-Factory and Oppositional Knowledges

The university represents several key sites of conflict diffused across its increasingly porous boundaries with society: the control over our production and use of knowledge in daily life, the reproduction of the labor force, the creation of hierarchies and divisions across lines of race, ethnicity, class and gender, etc.   As we familiarize ourselves with these struggles and forms of inequality (both in theory and as lived experience), we also inquire about our own potential resistance and flight lines from the hierarchalization process.


The Edu-Factory project is a transnational web-based discussion that has sought to better analyze the university's many transformations in light of these concerns as well as the knowledge production and the production of struggles. Right now we are focusing our discussion within the double crisis (that is, the global economic crisis, and the crisis of the university).  On the one hand, there is the global economic crisis that is speeding up the crisis of the university as the core of the knowledge and epistemological production; on the other hand, there is the crisis of the postfordist mode of production and labor conditions (especially in regard to precaritization, disqualification, racialization and engendering) within the university.


Edu-Factory poses the question of the double crisis because it is positioned on the borders between the university and social production. This is the site of intensive struggle and reorganization, as well as the place of the production of the common that is the expression of autonomous yet mutually dependent bodies touching in social admixture.
Join members and collaborators of the Edu-Factory collective in a presentation and discussion of the project, its aims, and experiences.

6:30 – 7:30pm
Workshop / Panel :: Working Through and Beyond the New School Occupation ::

7:30pm – on
Walk to Art Installation :: “Education & Community: Engaging Public Space & Invigorating the Local Installation” and to Reception at the Bell Museum

 

Sunday, April 26

9:00 – 10:15am

Collective Composition of a Manifesto

(click here to brainstorm ideas for the manifesto before the conference)

10:30 – 11:30am

Workshop ::Pedagogies of inquiry and everyday teaching practices” ::

In this workshop, I propose to interrogate some of the traditional formats used in both undergraduate education (lecture, section, term papers) and graduate seminars (read, discuss, perform) that are taken for granted as the framework for university education.  I would like to examine these as the practices of historically particular pedagogical and philosophical frameworks in classroom learning, and to see what other practical possibilities might be available to us in our point of interface with students, as scholars and as educators. 

Taking as a jumping-off point some short texts and ideas from thinkers including Paolo Freire, John Dewey, Augusto Boal and Michael Rohd, this workshop would take participants through some exercises in re-imagining the university classroom as a site for genuine student inquiries in particular frameworks.  These will include: - reconsidering how to think through text - different styles and formats for meaningful discussion-  re-working the culture of the ‘first day’ to focus on a more transparent discussion of pedagogy and student engagement (as opposed to syllabus oration) - exercises in facilitation - an exploration of the physical spaces of the classroom - a general discussion of how this work might promote a culture of critical inquiry among students. 

11:45am – 1:00pm
Panel :: Reworking the Classroom—Breaking Through the Standards of Working-Class Students ::

With the growing number of working-class students throughout America’s collegiate institutions (see Alberti, 2001), instructors must understand how the expectations and standards of the working-class student affects the position of the authoritarian instructor.  This panel will examine our roles as instructors and authority figures with working-class students and will explore the working-class student's standards and how these standards affect our relationship with the students.  We will also discuss how we can rework and adapt our teaching methods/lessons to fit the dynamic of the classroom.

Gregory McCoy  - Democratizing a Teacher’s Authority—Shifting Power from the Teacher to the Student           
Although many students move from the working-class lives to the middle-class classroom, as Lynn Z. Bloom and Sharon O’Dair have discussed, their perception of authority does not necessarily shift, leading to resistance that undermines growth.  Their previous ideas and behaviors towards authority figures—such as their and their parents’ distrust of the motives of bosses—carry into the classroom.  Speaker 1 will discuss how teachers can move from the role of supervisor in the office to person on the assembly line, creating a new teacher-student relationship that shares authority and harbors empowerment.  By mirroring attitudes embraced in Ira Shor’s When Students Have Power (1996), teachers can disrupt students’ expectations by offering to share the curricular decisions and design classroom policies.  When teachers incorporate periodic classroom assessments into near-future lessons, students see their lives represented in class.  Through this, teachers become democratically authorized by students, and they can backload curricular requirements once they have secured this student investment.

John Russo -  Deconstructing the Expectations of Instructors and Their Working-Class Students           
When establishing relationships in the classroom, instructors and students knowingly and unknowingly institute mutual expectations.  What methods can instructors use to adapt these expectations to better fit our growing population of working-class students?  Speaker #2 will look at how instructors can use coursework like what Shor calls “generative theme” assignments – allowing students to define authority in the classroom.  The Speaker will also explore how instructors can deconstruct working class expectations in a class-conscious pedagogy.

— Brittani Lenz - A Look at Working-Class Approaches to Homework           
After the bell rings, working-class adults leave their jobs and go home.  The idea of bringing work home from the construction site is absurd; yet, their children are expected to do nightly homework.  This homework is often compromised, and thus, the lessons aren't absorbed.  How do we break this homework barrier and encourage working-class students to participate in a meaningful way?  One method is to appeal to different varieties of intelligence through various homework methodologies in the classroom.  Mike Rose's The Mind at Work discusses different types of intelligence; these could be rework assignments to appeal to working-class students, such as in-class workshops instead of take-home work.  Reworking the school-as-job concept will enable students to better relate to the goals of academia.

2:00- 3:15pm
Panel ::The Experimental College of the Twin Cities” ::

- For more info, see: http://www.excotc.org

 

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