The latest issue of Anthropologies, including my submission, is now available (see table of contents below). I recommend reading all the articles in full and have quoted selected highlights from each. Erin Taylor has also written a succinct and thoughtful report on her blog: University, Inc.: Striking fear into the heart of academics. This is an important, powerful and timely issue that speaks to pervasive problems affecting us all. To reiterate Ryan Anderson's concluding thought in his introduction, "please read, pass this around, comment, and find your own way to keep the conversation going. That's a good first step toward eradicating the "suck" from academia."

Anthropologies Issue 16, January 2013

The Neoliberalized, Debt-plagued, Low Wage, Corporatized University

 ~ Contents ~

Ryan Anderson
So there's one option: we can take the university system full bore down the for-profit, privatized trail blazed so willingly by the U of Phoenix folks. We'll be in the hands of administrators like the former director of the University of Phoenix who, when asked about the purpose of education, said: "I'm happy that there are places in the world where people sit down and think. We need that. But that's very expensive. And not everybody can do that. So for the vast majority of folks who don't get that privilege, then I think it's a business". And there you have it. The choice is ours. What side will you pick?

Francine Barone
Because academia relies on such a hierarchical system, people are affected in different ways, separated by static categories and self-interest. Too often we suffer alone, hiding behind office doors churning out publications, cursing the process that we mindlessly reproduce.

Erin B. Taylor
Graduate students are taught that tenure track is the only option because their freedom to create knowledge will be severely curtailed in an applied world. The lecturers and professors who teach them this scramble like mice in a wheel to keep their jobs under adverse conditions because they believe there is no other viable path. They may study hegemony in their distant fieldsites, but they have no idea how to recognise it or deal with it when it affects their own lives.

Keith Hart
There have never been so many graduate researchers chasing so few jobs. Universities are too rigid, top heavy and expensive to act as the research engine of contemporary societies and are being replaced by smaller, more flexible and hungry organizations. Research publications have become largely meaningless except for purposes of academic promotion.

Tazin Karim
Evan, another non-prescription user tells me that before college, he never considered taking Adderall. He explains that: "It wasn’t until I was mature enough to understand that grades actually mattered that I saw the value of something like Adderall. I think that's why if my parents ever found out, they wouldn't be pissed, they would be proud of me for taking initiative. Everyone here has the opportunity to take Adderall to study if they really want to – so if they choose not to take it, that's on them."

Patrick Bigger & Victor E. Kappeler
Simply stated, the movement toward online learning, hailed by its proponents as a democratic revolution, is little more than a pragmatic response by universities to a deception perpetrated by political elites, capitalists in the tech sector, and increasingly powerful neoliberal NGOs like the Gates Foundation. Superficial, unengaging, and of questionable outcomes, online educational programs constitute a manifestation of the neoliberlalization of nearly everything for the public, students and educators alike. It is not lost on the anti-educationalists, including politicians seeking to dismantle what’s left of the welfare state, tech entrepreneurs, and sections of Christian fundamentalists that a good crisis is a terrible thing to waste.

Greg Downey
We are told that reform, restructuring, or removal of courses is justified because of "student preference," whether or not there is actual evidence that market forces are pushing the change. In an unrelenting bad economic climate, the disjuncture may not be so obvious; here, it can be jarring. If the budget is actually in surplus, it takes serious goalpost movement to manufacture an appropriate sense of institutional anxiety. In fact, many of the changes seem to stem, not from market considerations, but instead from impulses toward bureaucratization, desire for greater central control, old fashioned battles for prestige or turf, and even new, trendy management discourses and literature in "learning and teaching."

Ryan Anderson
Ideally, Delbanco explains, college is supposed to be a place where students receive critical guidance as they learn how to start asking and answering questions for themselves. It's a place where people learn what they are all about, and starting figuring out who they are and want to become. But many of today's students show up to college with a range of habits, ideas, and behaviors firmly set in place. A lot of them are deeply concerned about how they stack up with their peers. College is an incredibly competitive place these days, and that competition takes a variety of forms.


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