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The University is Dead, Long Live the Academy! Reflections on the Future of Knowledge – Opinion – ABC Religion & Ethics (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
I think it is increasingly important to distinguish The University from The Academy because contemporary universities, especially those in the United States, are better understood as "multi-versities" - a term coined by the president of the University of California, Clark Kerr, in 1963 to make sense of his own post-war institution.

Consider the University of Virginia (UVA) where I teach. It is an entertainment and production company (UVA's concerts and events), a healthcare provider, a start-up incubator, a federally-financed research unit, a philanthropic behemoth, a sports franchise and, perhaps incidentally, a community devoted to education and the creation and transmission of knowledge. And these multifarious activities correspond to a range of distinct purposes. Contemporary universities are expected to educate, democratize, credentialize and socialize. Over the past century, universities have become all-purpose institutions bound together, as Kerr put it, by little more than "a common governing board" that manages disparate interests and oftentimes competing purposes.

At this point it might be tempting to turn critique into elegy, to indulge a desire for a time that was otherwise. But that would be irresponsible and delusional. The university as a fully coherent, autonomous institution guided by a singular and shared purpose never existed. In a way, universities have always been "multi-versities" - institutions serving multiple and sometimes competing ends.
academe  university 
18 days ago by ayjay
Letter to 
a Campus Activist by Vincent Lloyd | Articles | First Things
We live in a world that is deeply flawed. We must struggle to see this without forgetting that each one of us is no less flawed. Those whom the world captures with the language of race have it especially hard, but we also have a special privilege. Rebellion that involves beer and debauchery rings hollow when one bears the bruises of racist violence. Our rebellion tends in loftier directions than that of your peers, but the risk of self-satisfaction is also greater.

You, my campus activist, have the misfortune to live in a secular age, an age when rebellion against the world means embrace of the self—which really means embrace of the worst that the world has on offer. Be careful. Seek out communities and relationships that orient you beyond yourself, toward others and toward the God who promises peace and justice. There is no single roadmap to rebelling rightly, or to living rightly, and we all inevitably fall short. I pray that you fail better than I did.
academe 
23 days ago by ayjay
Peer review: the end of an error?
Why does any of this matter? Defenders of formal peer review usually admit that it is flawed, but go on to say, as though it were obvious, that any other system would be worse. But it is not obvious at all. If academics put their writings directly online and systems were developed for commenting on them, one immediate advantage would be a huge amount of money saved. Another would be that we would actually get to find out what other people thought about a paper, rather than merely knowing that somebody had judged it to be above a certain not very precise threshold (or not knowing anything at all if it had been rejected). We would be pooling our efforts in useful ways: for instance, if a paper had an error that could be corrected, this would not have to be rediscovered by every single reader.

An alternative system would almost certainly not be perfect, but to insist on perfection, given the imperfections of the current system, is nothing but status quo bias. To guard against this, imagine that an alternative system were fully established and see whether you can mount a convincing argument for switching to what we have now, where all the valuable commentary would be hidden away and we would have to pay large sums of money to read each other’s writings. You would be laughed out of court.
academe  scholarship 
27 days ago by ayjay
Study finds that students themselves, not professors, lead some to become more liberal in college
Dodson's analysis of the data shows that students who get engaged academically are likely to increase their time talking about political issues and becoming engaged in civic life.
With regard to political views, academic engagement promoted moderation. "[T]he results indicate -- in contrast to the concerns of many conservative commentators -- that academic involvement generally moderates attitudes," Dodson writes. "While conservative students do become more liberal as a result of academic involvement, liberals become more conservative as a result of their academic involvement. Indeed it appears that a critical engagement with a diverse set of ideas -- a hallmark of the college experience -- challenges students to re-evaluate the strength of their political convictions."
The data on student activities demonstrate the opposite impact: The more involved that liberal students get, the more liberal they become, while the more involved conservative students get, the more conservative they become."This finding suggests that students seek out and engage with familiar social environments -- a choice that leads to the strengthening of their political beliefs."
academentia  academe  politics 
5 weeks ago by ayjay
Disturbing allegations of sexual harassment in Antarctica leveled at noted scientist | Science | AAAS
Two women allege their team leader bullied them at remote research sites years ago. Now they are taking action
harassment  science  abuse  academe 
6 weeks ago by sasha_feather
Sapping Attention: "Peer review" is younger than you think. Does that mean it can go away?
Historian of science Alex Czsisar wrote a short piece for Nature in 2016 ... where he says this, which is very much along the same lines.
'Peer review' was a term borrowed from the procedures that government agencies used to decide who would receive financial support for scientific and medical research. When 'referee systems' turned into 'peer review', the process became a mighty public symbol of the claim that these powerful and expensive investigators of the natural world had procedures for regulating themselves and for producing consensus, even though some observers quietly wondered whether scientific referees were up to this grand calling.

All of this suggests, though it doesn't prove, that the shift to a language of "peer review" involves a model of research that draws on a nationally organized scientific funding system that merges with a series of older traditions. Most of the histories of peer review in the sciences note how late journals were to adopt it: leading British publications like the Lancet and Nature don't take up outside peer reviewers until the 1970s.

If the history of peer review in the sciences is young, the history of peer review in the humanities is even younger.
academe 
9 weeks ago by ayjay
How Poets Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Academy - The Chronicle of Higher Education
If the struggle of the modernists was to make peace with bureaucratic institutions without compromising the purity and quality of their work, the question for those who have come after them has been whether to challenge or sustain that peace. The modernist union of poetry, criticism, and bureaucracy has had many obvious benefits: Certainly the levels of comfort, prosperity, and productivity enjoyed by several generations of Anglo-American poets from the postwar era onward as a result of their connection to bureaucratic institutions are nothing to minimize.

But in many ways poets have traded reliance on an aristocratic elite for a technocratic one — the patron for the administrator. The particular kind of cultural compromise that the modernist poet-critics normalized has made it harder to conceive of an autonomous poetic culture that exists apart from bureaucratic institutions. In an age of labor-market crises in academe and dwindling resources for the arts in both the public and private sectors — not to mention rampant populist anti-intellectualism and skepticism even on the part of elites about the value of the humanities — that may be exactly the future that today’s poet-critics and scholars most need to imagine, whether they want to or not. [...]

Are there new institutional havens out there to which today’s poets (and critics) can turn? Can the market, or civil society, sustain the kind of professionalized poetic activity that has been supported by the academy and other institutions for the past 60 years? Will today’s poets need to return to something like the old patronage system, in which a few exceptional geniuses are subsidized while the majority of would-be professionals are neglected?

The answers are unclear, in part because the need to provide them has not yet become acute: We have not yet abandoned the citadels that the modernists established. Indeed, we should continue to defend them. But we should spend at least as much time and energy surveying what lies beyond.
poetry  criticism  academe  via:ayjay 
10 weeks ago by isaacsmith
How Poets Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Academy - The Chronicle of Higher Education
If the struggle of the modernists was to make peace with bureaucratic institutions without compromising the purity and quality of their work, the question for those who have come after them has been whether to challenge or sustain that peace. The modernist union of poetry, criticism, and bureaucracy has had many obvious benefits: Certainly the levels of comfort, prosperity, and productivity enjoyed by several generations of Anglo-American poets from the postwar era onward as a result of their connection to bureaucratic institutions are nothing to minimize.

But in many ways poets have traded reliance on an aristocratic elite for a technocratic one — the patron for the administrator. The particular kind of cultural compromise that the modernist poet-critics normalized has made it harder to conceive of an autonomous poetic culture that exists apart from bureaucratic institutions. In an age of labor-market crises in academe and dwindling resources for the arts in both the public and private sectors — not to mention rampant populist anti-intellectualism and skepticism even on the part of elites about the value of the humanities — that may be exactly the future that today’s poet-critics and scholars most need to imagine, whether they want to or not. [...]

Are there new institutional havens out there to which today’s poets (and critics) can turn? Can the market, or civil society, sustain the kind of professionalized poetic activity that has been supported by the academy and other institutions for the past 60 years? Will today’s poets need to return to something like the old patronage system, in which a few exceptional geniuses are subsidized while the majority of would-be professionals are neglected?

The answers are unclear, in part because the need to provide them has not yet become acute: We have not yet abandoned the citadels that the modernists established. Indeed, we should continue to defend them. But we should spend at least as much time and energy surveying what lies beyond.
poetry  criticism  academe 
10 weeks ago by ayjay
Social Media isn't for Learning - Long View on Education
I have a very strong reaction against the idea that we should teach students how to brand themselves, especially given the broader economic context where those good google jobs aren’t handed out equitably based on online portfolios. But I think there is a strong argument for teaching children how to manage as best as possible what search engines will find when they are googled. Maybe there is room for teaching how to be less than your whole self, selectively curating different slices of you for extraction at a later date. On the flip side, students may not want to act out their most meaningful or ‘authentic’ learning on the most public of platforms. Schools have a role as a carapace.

As much as we can teach students how to navigate the platforms we do have, we must guard against the greatest danger: inculcating a sense of complacency in the face of the existing platform logic as if it forms an inevitable and incontestable future.
socialmedia  textpatterns  academe 
11 weeks ago by ayjay
“Students as Creators” and the Theology of the Attention Economy
But the rhetoric around “students as creators” is unbelievably bad. It parrots all of capitalism’s worst theology: we want to make “makers, not takers”, we value “doers, not thinkers”. As I said a few years back, the idea that universities should value “producers” and push our students towards “production” is actually the least subversive idea you could possibly have at a university. The most subversive idea you could have at a university these days is that you might think a few connected thoughts without throwing them into either publication or the attention economy. That you might think about things for the purpose of being a better human, without an aim to produce anything at all.
academe  textpatterns  socialmedia 
11 weeks ago by ayjay
China Looks at Western Universities and Smells Weakness
Western universities’ traditional response to criticisms on China’s restrictions on free inquiry was to claim that they could help liberalize their Chinese counterparts by establishing contact with them. What has happened instead is that they’ve ended up importing Chinese academic censorship into their own institutions. Cambridge University Press censoring on behalf of Beijing is not the first time elite British universities have opted for the bottom line over principle in accepting Chinese censorship contributions.

A recent study by the U.S. National Association of Scholars found widespread evidence that the Confucius Institutes, Beijing-funded centers for “Chinese culture and language” in foreign campuses, limit what can be taught and discussed not just in their courses but throughout universities. Confucius teachers are paid by the Chinese Ministry of Education and are required to adhere to Chinese laws on speech even when teaching overseas. As the report noted, “Some reported an outright ban on discussing subjects that are censored in China.… [U]niversities have made improper concessions that jeopardize academic freedom and institutional autonomy.” Western universities are not just accepting censorship; they are signing up for it.
academe  from instapaper
12 weeks ago by ayjay
Why Donald Trump Has Been Good For Truth
In paying less attention to truth, we humanists have undermined the strongest argument to be made for why scholarship is important. At the end of his 1950 article, Momigliano explained that the historian’s search for truth is a form of religious life. Scholarship may be secular, but devotion still drives the modern academic venture: the researcher is a secularized monk, truth is sacred, and its pursuit is a path of holiness.

It’s not likely that much of this sentiment is conveyed to doctoral students or newly minted Ph.Ds. And, of course, researchers are not saints and devotion to truth in one’s footnotes does not mean that one does not cheat on one’s taxes. Yet the scholar’s habitus does track a religious calling. If we are going to take truth seriously we will need to take the meaning of its pursuit — not just its ends — equally seriously. We can’t yet know if those shocked by Trump’s Pyrrhonism will turn back to traditional cultures of evidence. But we in the academy can seize this moment to pay new attention to research: its history and practices, its social meaning, and, finally, its ethical importance.
politics  academe  scholarship  from instapaper
12 weeks ago by ayjay
Universities can do more to curb hateful speech - Chicago Tribune
My own view is that universities, including public universities, would be well-advised to stand on their rights to limit the presence of nonuniversity speakers where possible and to stop their public spaces from becoming classic public forums.

On the surface, it may seem that such limitations would run counter to the free academic exchange of ideas.

But on closer examination, academic freedom and constitutional free speech are actually pretty different. In private universities, the act of creating a campus where academic freedom exists requires the creation of a community that shares certain scholarly norms. If students and teachers could shout each other down, free exchange of ideas on campus would quickly become impossible.

And in truth, public universities aren’t much different. To function as universities, they need to create an environment of communal commitment to exploring the truth. That includes, in my view, great latitude for expressing almost any imaginable viewpoint. But it does not include threats or harassment. And it does not allow for gross violations of civility. [...]

In short, the university is not the public square. Where the First Amendment requires it to be treated as such, it’s crucial for public university administrators to follow the law. But wherever possible, we should use all lawful means to distinguish the free-for-all of public argument from the structured, reasoned debate to which the university as an institution is supposed to be dedicated.
academe  university  freespeech 
august 2017 by ayjay
How Colleges Are Strangling Liberalism - The Chronicle of Higher Education
Flash back to 1980 and the election of Ronald Reagan. Republican activists are setting out on the road to spread the new individualist gospel of small government and pouring their energies into winning out-of-the-way county, state, and congressional elections — a bottom-up strategy. Also on the road, though taking a different exit off the interstate, you see former New Left activists in rusting, multicolored VW buses. Having failed to overturn capitalism and the military-industrial complex, they are heading for college towns all over America, where they hope to practice a very different sort of politics aimed at transforming the outlook of the educated classes — a top-down strategy. Both groups succeeded. [...]

The universities of our time instead cultivate students so obsessed with their personal identities and campus pseudo-politics that they have much less interest in, less engagement with, and frankly less knowledge of matters that don't touch on identity in the great out there. Neither Elizabeth Cady Stanton (who studied Greek) nor Martin Luther King Jr. (who studied Christian theology) nor Angela Davis (who studied Western philosophy) received an identity-based education. And it is difficult to imagine them becoming who they became had they been cursed with one. The fervor of their rebellion demonstrated the degree to which their education had widened their horizons and developed in them a feeling of democratic solidarity rare in America today.
politics  academe 
august 2017 by ayjay

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