👓 Universities should be working for the greater good | Kathleen Fitzpatrick | Times Higher Education

Read Universities should be working for the greater good by Kathleen FitzpatrickKathleen Fitzpatrick (Times Higher Education (THE))
Friendly competition can push us all to do better. But when the competitiveness that fuels excellence and prestige becomes based in the logic of the market, universities lose sight of their true purpose, writes Kathleen Fitzpatrick

Kudos Kathleen! This! This is the type of university I would want to be a part of.

This article reminds me a lot of the thesis in Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson’s book American Amnesia: How the War on Government Led Us to Forget What Made America Prosper. There they indicate that America’s economy isn’t one of pure capitalism and competition, but that we’ve gotten here by a healthy dose of having a mixed economy. Higher education needs a lot of that same mixed economy perspective to fix the wrongs of decades of to much direct competition which is having far too many unexpected consequences and emergent behaviors which we didn’t expect, anticipate, and now have trouble attempting to fix.

This article is so important, just this once, I’ll recommend that those who hit the website’s paywall and don’t want to register, use a read it later service like Pocket or Instapaper which should give you the full text or you can use your browser’s functionality for “viewing source” to get a marked up version.

A brief reflection on Kate Bowles’ keynote at OER 19

Kate Bowles gave a great Keynote at the Open Education Resources 2019 (OER19) conference in Galway last night. In it she indicates how politicians, economists and even universities themselves measure their growth at the level of imports/exports and even compare it with mining in a cynical way to describe the movement of their educational resources and students.

Slide from Bowle's talk with an image of a heavily mined and damaged site. The slide is entitled "This is how the expanded university talks" and contains the quote:'What do iron ore, coal and Australia'sinternational education sector have in common? They're the top three exports for Australia, with recent international trade data showing that the international education sector contributed AUS$32.2 billion (US$24.7 billion) dollars to the economy in 2017' --ICEF Monitor, 2018

Slide from Bowle's talk with an image of a heavily mined and damaged site. The slide is entitled "This is how the expanded university talks" and contains the quote: '81 per cent of Australians grasp that international education makes a major contribution to national prosperity. This overwhelming public support rises again--to 85 per cent--when Australians learn exactly how much income this sector brings into the Australian economy each year.'--Universities Australia, March 2019
A slide from

“What a chilling thing to say about young people crossing the world to learn.” –Kate Bowles (in response to the slide immediately above)

The fact that businesses, governments, and even universities themselves would take such an ugly standpoint on teaching and learning is painful. It reminds me that one of the things that I think the open IndieWeb movement gets right is that it is people-centric first and foremost. If you can take care of people at the most base level, then hopefully what gets built upon that base–while still watching it carefully–will be much more ethical.

The IndieWeb is a people-focused alternative to the “corporate web”.

As a result of this people-centric vision, I’m seeing a lot less of the sort of ills, unintended consequences, and poor emergent behaviors caused by the drive toward surveillance capitalism within the giant social media silos like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, et al.

I’m reminded of a part of the thesis that Cesar Hidalgo presents in Why Information Grows: The Evolution of Order from Atoms to Economies of the idea of the personbyte and what that looks like at a group level, then a corporate level, and I wonder how it may grow to the next level above that. Without ultimately focusing on the person at the bottom of the pyramid however, we may be ethically losing sight of where we’re going and why. We may even be building an edifice that is far more likely to crumble with even worse unintended consequences.

Here’s her talk in full. I highly recommend it.

👓 The Death of an Adjunct | The Atlantic

Read The Death of an Adjunct (The Atlantic)
Thea Hunter was a promising, brilliant scholar. And then she got trapped in academia’s permanent underclass.

👓 WTF Is Going on at Wright State? | Inside Higher Ed

Read WTF Is Going on at Wright State? (Inside Higher Ed)
It's ugly, but it was foreseeable, maybe even inevitable.

The glut of Ph.D. graduates is slowly killing academia. We need a better pathway for highly educated people to do something besides teach with these degrees because there just aren’t enough spots to employ them all.

I’m curious what other economic pressures are causing this issue and ones like it? Solidarity and unions are a stopgap at best, eventually the entire system is going to come down unless some drastic changes are made. Eventually it’ll only be the tier 1 schools that have tenure anymore, and everyone else will just be teachers. But even the tier 1 schools may have problems eventually too…

Apparently tenure numbers in rankings don’t mean enough after some point to force colleges to grant it at a reasonable level.

👓 Facing poverty, academics turn to sex work and sleeping in cars | the Guardian

Read Facing poverty, academics turn to sex work and sleeping in cars by Alastair Gee (the Guardian)
Adjunct professors in America face low pay and long hours without the security of full-time faculty. Some, on the brink of homelessness, take desperate measures

👓 What Happens to Students When Their Professors Are on Welfare | The Atlantic

Read What Happens to Students When Their Professors Are on Welfare (The Atlantic)
The plight of non-tenured professors is widely known, but what about the impact they have on the students they’re hired to instruct?

Universities are squeezing out as much as they can without students realizing the drop in quality and services they’re receiving.

👓 About Us | Precaricorps

Read About Us (Precaricorps)
PrecariCorps has four fundamental purposes:
  1. To improve the lives and livelihoods of contingent faculty undergoing financial hardship by providing charitable assistance to them in the form of cash assistance and/or grants;
  2. To create and distribute educational media to the public, including parents, students, and college communities, that details how colleges function in the post-recession U.S. economy;
  3. To create and design a searchable archive for contingent faculty issues in the news;
  4. To conduct research on contingent faculty and their role in the economy of U.S. colleges to encourage a broader public understanding of how colleges budget their financial resources as well as what effects these budgetary practices have on faculty populations, student populations, and the general value of higher education.