Thursday, January 24, 2008

Academic Freedom Symposium at DePaul

January 20, 2008
Media Contact: Daniel Klimek
T: (773) 817-1291 E:


1-2 February 2008
Lincoln Park Student Center - 2250 N. Sheffield Ave. Chicago, IL

CHICAGO, IL – CHICAGO, IL – In light of the controversial tenure denials of eminent Middle East scholar Norman G. Finkelstein and International Studies professor Mehrene Larudee earlier last year at DePaul University, prominent scholars from across the country are coming together for a two-day conference at DePaul, on February 1-2, to lecture about the threats facing academic freedom and Middle Eastern studies at universities. In addition to DePaul's cases, the efforts to silence scholars such as John Mearsheimer (University of Chicago) and Stephen Walt (Harvard University), and the tenure controversies of Nadia Abu El-Haj (Barnard College) and Joseph Massad (Columbia University) have all inspired the conference, which seeks to protect as well as preserve academic freedom through honest and informed debate.

The event is hosted by the DePaul Academic Freedom Committee, and co-sponsored by the DePaul University International Studies Program, the Peace Studies Program, the History Department, and the Department of Philosophy*
*DePaul University is not sponsoring this event, only the listed departments and programs

The Academic Freedom Committee is still accepting a call for papers to be submitted by professors or students for the two-day conference. For more information, please visit

The event is to be held at the Lincoln Park Student Center 2250 N. Sheffield Ave., at DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois.


Academic Freedom Syposum
Feb 1-2, 2008
DePaul University, 2250 N. Sheffield Ave., Chicago, IL

Event schedule:

Day 1 - FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 6:00pm -9:00pm

Introduction with Keynote Speaker – 6:00 pm
Sara Roy, Harvard University political economist

The Role of the Activist Professor – 7:00 pm
Featuring Panelists:
- Bill Ayers, Professor, College of Education, University of Illinois – Chicago
- Ken Butigan, author, professor and peace activist
- Robert Jensen, Professor, School of Journalism, University of Texas
- Marcy Newman, Visiting Professor, Center for American Studies and Research, American University of Beirut; Fellow, Initiative for Middle East Policy Dialogue

Day 2 – SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 11:00 am – 7:00 pm

Academic Freedom and the Way Forward – 11:00 am
Featuring Panelists:
- Mark Ellis, University Professor of Jewish Studies and Director of the Center for Jewish Studies at Baylor University
- Peter Kirstein, Professor, Department of History, Saint Xavier University
- Joel Kovel, Distinguished Professor, Department of Social Studies, Bard College

Paper Presentations – 2:00 pm
Documentary Film presented by
Landrum Bolling, Director, Mercy Corps

Academic Freedom and Middle East Studies – 5:00 pm
Featuring Panelists:
- As’ad AbuKhalil, Professor, Department of Politics and Public Administration, California State University
- Juan Cole, Professor, Department of History, University of Michigan
- Peter Novick, Professor (Emeritus), Department of History, University of Chicago

For more information, visit us at

Monday, January 21, 2008

(video) All intellectuals are workers; and all workers are intellectuals

Part 1 and Part 2 of my interview with Adolph Reed (poli sci, U Penn) and US Labor Party. Also see "Play PhD Casino" and "Faculty on Food Stamps."

Marc Bousquet

Fearmongering neoliberalism

In an op-ed for today's Globe and Mail newspaper ("Canada's National Newspaper"), Indira Samarasekera, president of the University of Alberta, offers up an excellent example of the neoliberal propaganda aimed at opening up universities for exploitation by coporations.

Indeed, Samarasekera argues that the fate of not only universities, but of the national economy rides on public higher education resources being turned over to multinational corporations such as Intel, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, GlaxoSmithKline and BP.

The bargain is that these corporations invest "millions in basic and applied research in return for greater access to university laboratories and expertise," but Samarasekera studiously avoids any analysis of this equation.

Using the USA and India has examples of where "highly flexible, collaborative partnerships, have changed how postsecondary institutions and multinational conglomerates…work together," she argues that Canadians must follow the lead of these "most vibrant and diversified economies" to break down the barriers between industry and academe.

Samarasekera's key tactic is fear mongering about the Canadian economy, which she ironically admits is strong, but this fact seems not to affect her "logic":

But in today's ruthless global marketplace – where our competitors are leaping ahead of us through innovative policies and edgy entrepreneurial partnerships – we must quickly and strategically increase our competitiveness, productivity and innovation or risk being left behind.

Indeed, in spite of the strength of the Canadian economy, we are losing our competitive edge, failing to significantly improve productivity. Compared with our competitors, Canada has too few innovators, and too little entrepreneurial drive to bring our own ideas to market.

Samarasekera presents the fundamental (neoliberal) purpose of public research universities as: "Translating [university] research into commercially viable products" which is, of course, a "processes is best handled by expertise found in business."

President and vice-chancellor of the University of Alberta
21 January 2008

Saturday, January 19, 2008

UC at Berkeley and BP

"In February 2007, BP (British Petroleum) announced plans with the University of California (UC) at Berkeley, in partnership with the University of Illinois and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, to lead the largest academic-industry research alliance in U.S. history."

"For a relatively small financial contribution, BP appropriates academic expertise from a leading public research institution, founded on 200 years of social support, to maximize its return on energy investments. These investments, in turn, are focused primarily on promoting the market for biofuel, the newest darling of those in power who stimulate change while maintaining "business as usual." (...) this case represents a new twist in the combination of debunked science, ecological imperialism, and the sophistry of "sustainable development.""

"The benefits to BP include access to leading scientists and laboratories, first rights for patent negotiations, and the rubber stamp of academia and science on its new projects. The benefit for the university is purely financial, though at least one third of the money goes to BP's own private projects on campus. The benefit for the public is hard to find. Politicians, university officials, and pro-market pundits laud this public-private partnership, while those critical of the "prostitution" of the university, including experts on biofuels' social and environmental impacts, are marginalized. This is not surprising given the undemocratic nature of the process whereby the details of the deal were negotiated without any public input."
Read the full report "Biofuels, BP-Berkeley, and the New Ecological Imperialism" by Hannah Holleman and Rebecca Clausen (backup here).

Monday, January 14, 2008

Special reports on academic freedom

University World News (no. 0011 of January 13, 2008) has released a special issue on academic freedom around the world:
Academic freedom is under threat in many nations around the world. Yet, as the Canadian Association of University Teachers says, post-secondary educational institutions serve the common good of society by searching for and disseminating knowledge, truth and understanding – and by fostering independent thinking and expression among academic staff and students. “Robust democracies require no less. These ends cannot be achieved without academic freedom,” the union declares. In this special series of reports, our correspondents discuss the situation in their countries.

- Read for instance Ard Jongsma's report from Denmark on the debate about Terence Karran's comparative study of academic freedom 23 European countries, and Karen MacGregor's telling article on "SOUTH AFRICA: Freedoms gained now being lost".

Monday, January 7, 2008

(video) In the US: Faculty on Food Stamps

Despite wildly erroneous impressions worldwide and by the corporate news media to the contrary, the overwhelming majority of American faculty are neither well-paid nor secure in their positions. Graduate students and precarious faculty do 3/4 of the teaching, frequently for around US$15,ooo a year. In most disciplines, the majority of persons earning these wages are women. On the same campuses, however, there are plenty of persons earning well over US$1oo,ooo. These individuals are generally overwhelmingly men: administrators, union-busting lawyers, sports coaches, and faculty in male-dominated disciplines such as business and engineering.

See the 5-minute video "Faculty on Food Stamps" at

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Welcome to our new blog

Fight Academic Capitalism!
- Welcome to the blog Universities as a public good

Academic capitalism
is the involvement of universities - professors, teachers, faculty leaders - in market-like behaviors. This has become a key feature of higher education, not only in the United States and Europe but world-wide. These institutional practices are detrimental to academic freedom, free inquiry and a university system that serves the whole society as a public good.

This blog is made to contest and challenge the increasing dominance of the academic capitalist knowledge regime over a more classic public good knowledge regime that values knowledge as a public good to which citizenry has claims. Norms such as communalism, universality, free flow of knowledge and organized skepticism are associated with the public good model, and even though they as norms may never fully be realized, they govern behavior and help securing academic freedom.

We urge academic faculty and professionals to engage more deeply in shaping and controlling both academic work and the relationship between the institution and the marketplace. There is a growing need to “republicize” colleges and universities, that is, to reaffirm the university’s public purposes and financing. Help the universities to restore a more healthy balance between the two knowledge regimes.

Theoretical inspiration (at least so far - more to follow!) for this group:
Gary Rhoades and Sheila Slaughter: "Academic Capitalism in the New Economy: Challenges and Choices". American Academic 1 (1) - June 2004. (Can be downloaded here:

See also:
If you like to be informed about major news, events, calls for papers, or important discussions on the blog, you can receive the blog's newsletter: Sign up or off by emailing

From the staff and students of The University of Paris VIII Vincennes-Saint Denis

This post is forwarded from the edu-factory list and can also be seen at the Crafting Gentleness blog.
- - -
I'm passing this along from a friend at paris VIII involved in the
recent actions against the LRU there, and the subsequent effort to
reinvent the university taking place among the students and faculty...

for some more info (mostly in french) see


For seven weeks, a massive movement has been growing within the French
University system, uniting professors, students and staff in a struggle
against Sarkozy's new university reform law, the law concerning the
"Liberties and Responsabilities of the Universities" (LRU).

The University of Paris VIII Vincennes-Saint Denis, with the support
of University administration and personnel, has been on "active
strike", offering alternative classes and workshops open to all. Today
the movement is at a turning point, revealing the depth of the crisis.

In most of the French Universities, with the exception of our own due
to this administrative support, riot police are present on the
campuses and their buses line the surrounding streets. Aided by
private "security" guards, the riot police have entered the campuses
in order to violently break the strikes, occupations and picket lines.
Plainclothes police patrol the corridors. During the protests,
students have been targeted, beaten and arrested, sometimes resulting
in major injuries. Some of the University presidents are therefore
closing the campuses preventatively, while others call upon such
public or private "forces of order", and create a climate of
fear. Despite this situation we are confronted with a near-total media
blackout, as to the movement's size and its demands (the abrogation of
the law LRU), as well as the violent repression, due to the fact that
the dominant media are friendly with the government.

The law LRU was adopted by Parliament on August 10, 2007, in the
height of the summer vacation, without consulting the university
community. It attacks the foundations of the French University system
as a public institution with a scientific and cultural
mission. Although the system is arguably far from perfect, it has
remained an institution of higher learning that is accessible to all,
without entrance examinations or elevated tuition.

This law imposes the logic of the market onto the Universities, on
many levels. It forces them into competition with one another for
students, financing and prestige, thus turning them into enterprises
and creating a classist hierarchization between campuses. The few
democratic administrative structures that currently exist will
disappear, centralizing power in the hands of the president and a
board that will include representatives from private firms. Professors
and staff will be threatened with job insecurity, with the new
possibility of hiring adjuncts and temporary workers. Even the
academic departments are forced to compete with one another for
students and financing, allowing private interests to help determine
course content, and offering classes in function of the needs of the
current job market. The door is opened to elevated tuition. Students
thus become clients, and the university an enterprise. We believe that
a democratic society needs public universities whose mission it is to
develop the critical spirit of all citizens, and that access to the
university is a fundamental right for all. This is why our movement is
essential for the future of the University, in France and beyond.

We are therefore calling upon you to ask for your solidarity and
support, by inviting you to take part in our movement. At the
University of Paris VIII Vincennes-Saint Denis, a university with a
radical history and situated in the richly diverse North-eastern
suburbs of Paris, we have set up an "open university". We would like
to invite you to come and lead a workshop, consisting in giving a talk
and opening up a debate. Your work has inspired us and we have taken
it seriously; we therefore invite you to come and put it into practice
with us. Together we can discuss issues relating to the University
even beyond the abrogation of the LRU. Your particpation would be a
great help to our movement, which is in need of exterior support.

We thank you very much, and greatly hope to receive your positive


The collective of students, professors and staff of the University
Paris VIII Vincennes-Saint Denis

Rethinking the University

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

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

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

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

- forwarded from:
edufactory mailing list