Educate. Agitate. Organize: New and Not-So-New Teacher Movements

Never a dull moment these days in Education activism! Parallel with the fallout from records regarding the governance and management of UBC and calls for accountability by our Faculty Association is the BCTF’s work in holding the government to account for its legislation of bargaining rights

Of course, our Institute for Critical Education Studies has provided extensive analysis and commentary on both cases.

Keeping activism in context, we are thrilled to launch this Special Issue of Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labour:

Educate. Agitate. Organize: New and Not-So-New Teacher Movements

Special Issue Edited by Mark Stern, Amy E. Brown & Khuram Hussain

Table of Contents

Forward: The Systemic Cycle of Brokenness
Tamara Anderson

Introduction to the Special Issue: Educate. Agitate. Organize: New and Not-So-New Teacher Movements
Mark Stern, Amy E. Brown, Khuram Hussain

Articles

Principles to Practice: Philadelphia Educators Putting Social Movement Unionism into Action
Rhiannon M Maton

Teaching amidst Precarity: Philadelphia’s Teachers, Neighborhood Schools and the Public Education Crisis
Julia Ann McWilliams

Inquiry, Policy, and Teacher Communities: Counter Mandates and Teacher Resistance in an Urban School District
Katherine Crawford-Garrett, Kathleen Riley

More than a Score: Neoliberalism, Testing & Teacher Evaluations
Megan E Behrent

Resistance to Indiana’s Neoliberal Education Policies: How Glenda Ritz Won
Jose Ivan Martinez, Jeffery L. Cantrell, Jayne Beilke

“We Need to Grab Power Where We Can”: Teacher Activists’ Responses to Policies of Privatization and the Assault on Teachers in Chicago
Sophia Rodriguez

The Paradoxes, Perils, and Possibilities of Teacher Resistance in a Right-to-Work State
Christina Convertino

Place-Based Education in Detroit: A Critical History of The James & Grace Lee Boggs School
Christina Van Houten

Voices from the Ground

Feeling Like a Movement: Visual Cultures of Educational Resistance
Erica R. Meiners, Therese Quinn

Construir Y No Destruir (Build and Do Not Destroy): Tucson Resisting
Anita Fernández

Existential Philosophy as Attitude and Pedagogy for Self and Student Liberation
Sheryl Joy Lieb

Epilogue

No Sermons in Stone (Bernstein) + Left Behind (Austinxc04)
Richard Bernstein, Austinxc04

Thanks for the continued interest in and support of our journals, Critical Education and Workplace, and our ICES and Workplace blogs. And please keep the manuscripts and ideas rolling in!

CFP: AVPC 2016: Visual Pedagogies and Digital Cultures

Call for Papers AVPC 2016

We are pleased to announce the Second Call for Papers for the first Association of Visual Pedagogies Conference AVPC 2016: Visual Pedagogies and Digital Cultures. The conference is hosted by the University of Applied Sciences in Zagreb, Croatia, on June 18-19 2016.

 Peer reviewed conference articles will be published in The Video Journal of Education & Pedagogy (Springer) and a invited selection from the conference will be published as a special issue by conference organisers in consultation with the Editor-in-Chief, Michael A. Peters. 

Please send an abstract of no more than 400 words to Petar Jandrić (pjandric@tvz.hr) by 15 February 2016.                                                                                                                                                                        

Conference website: http://avpc.tvz.hr/

We look forward to meeting you in Zagreb!

 Conference Committee:

Petar Jandrić, University of Applied Sciences, Croatia, Michael A. Peters, University of Waikato, New Zealand, Tina Besley, University of Waikato, New Zealand, Jayne White, University of Waikato, New Zealand, Kathrin Otrel-Cass, Aalborg University, Denmark, John O’Neill, Massey University, New Zeland, Milan Bajić, University of Applied Sciences, Croatia.  

CALL FOR PAPERS: Special issue of Policy Futures in Education Lefebvre’s teachings

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CALL FOR PAPERS:

Special issue of Policy Futures in Education

Lefebvre’s teachings

Lefebvre’s teachings

Guest editor: Derek R. Ford, PhD

Although the person of Henri Lefebvre has been gone since 1991, the exploration of the implications of his thought for a variety of disciplines and social movements is still in its infancy. And it is likely to be a long life, as Lefebvre wrote over 60 books throughout his life, in addition to numerous articles, edited volumes, and lectures. Not only is the translation of his work into English still incomplete, but new manuscripts are still being discovered, Towards an Architecture of Enjoyment being the most recent.

Lefebvre’s thought has been most influential in geography and urban studies, animating key debates around, for example, the primary and secondary circuits of capital, industrialism versus urbanism, and spatial production more generally. It is primarily this body of secondary literature that has helped Lefebvre’s thought spread outward. Relatedly, his work on the right to the city has sparked a whole host of academic debates and policy formulations, and even some political coalitions. The growing importance of struggles over space in protest, social, and resistance movements across the globe has, to be sure, energized this interest.

Educational theory, research, and policy, however, have yet to engage with Lefebvre’s vast body of work in a sustained manner. There are just a handful of articles deeply engaging Lefebvre (e.g., Atasay and Delavan, 2012; Christie, 2013; Ford, 2013, in press; Taylor and Helfenbein, 2009) and one dedicated monograph (Middleton, 2013), although his work is referenced in and gestured toward quite a bit more often, primarily in sociology of education.

This special issue of Policy Futures in Education will be the first journal issue to focus specifically on Lefebvre’s thought and its import for educational theory, research, and policy. While authors need not be in the field of education proper, we seek submissions that represent sustained educational encounters with Lefebvre. Papers might examine Lefebvre’s work on everyday life and sociology, the state, rhythmanalysis, architecture, Marxism, dialectical materialism, Nietzsche, modernity, cities, space, or urbanism, and how this work relates to educational philosophies, practices, research, and policies. We are open to papers that explore Lefebvre’s relevance for education as well as papers that explore education’s relevance for Lefebvrean thought. If you are unsure if your topic will fit with the issue, please e-mail the editor for feedback.

Timeline:

An early expression of interest and a 200-300 word abstract is preferred by April 1st, 2016. Manuscripts—which should adhere to normal journal requirements—will be due October 1st, 2016. The expression of interest and abstract should be sent to drford@syr.edu. Authors of successful expressions of interest/abstracts will be directed to submit full manuscripts at http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/pfie.

About the guest editor:

Derek R. Ford is a teacher, organizer, and writer living in Philadelphia, PA, USA. He received his PhD in cultural foundations of education from Syracuse University in 2015. He has published several articles on Lefebvre and education and recently co-edited a special journal issue on education and the right to the city. His most recent books are Marx, capital, and education: Towards a critical pedagogy of becoming (with Curry Malott) and Leaders in critical pedagogy: Narratives for understanding and solidarity (with Brad Porfilio). His latest book, The secret and struggle of study: Political economy, alterity, pedagogy, will be published this year by Lexington Books.

References:

Atasay, E., & Delavan, G. (2012). Monumentalizing Disaster and Wreak-construction: a case study of Haiti to rethink the privatization of public education. Journal of Education Policy, 27(4), 529-553.

Christie, P. (2013). Space, Place, and Social Justice: developing a rhythmanalysis of education in South Africa. Qualitative Inquiry, 19(10), 775-785.

Ford, D.R. (2013). Toward a Theory of the Educational Encounter: Gert Biesta’s educational theory and the right to the city. Critical Studies in Education, 54(3), 299-310.

Ford, D.R. (in press). A Pedagogy for Space: teaching, learning, and studying in the Baltimore Rebellion. Policy Futures in Education.

Middleton, S. (2013). Henri Lefebvre and Education: space, history, theory. London and New York: Routledge.

Taylor, H. L., & Helfenbein, R. J. (2009). Mapping Everyday: gender, Blackness, and discourse in urban contexts. Educational Studies, 45(3), 319-329.

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Do private programs belong at public universities?

The University of Victoria has contracted with the Canadian telecom giant Telus to deliver a “customized” MBA program to Telus employees.

Telus executives will be teaching some of the courses; the instructors from UVic will apparently be teaching on contracts separate from their regular employment with the university. The details are sketchy because the agreement between the UVic and Telus is secret.

Here’s university’s press release on the new program, which is offered in the Sardul S. Gill Graduate School within UVic’s Peter B. Gustavson School of Business. The program gets started this month.

The program is the brain child of Telus’s “Chief Envisioner,” Dan Pontefract. Pontefract described the context and goals of the program in an Forbes magazine article this past August, “Going Back To School With A Corporate MBA Program.” (A Huffington Post version of the article appeared in September, “Why Corporations Should Launch Their Own MBA Programs“).

Victoria’s Times-Colonist and The Tyee have also run articles about the program.

Neither Telus nor UVic have (or plan to) release details of the financial agreement, as The Times-Colonist reports

As for the revenue, neither Telus nor UVic would divulge what Telus is paying. Klein noted all costs, including establishing the program and its infrastructure, tuition and overhead costs, were being covered by Telus and there is also a financial consideration that amounts to a profit for the school.

The program raises a raft of questions about academic governance, academic freedom, the vulnerability of public universities to corporate incursions as a result of budget slashing governments.

This program represent the next step in the ever evolving corporatization of the university, another neoliberal education policy that socializes costs and privatizes benefits.

I appeared on CBC Radio’s The 180 with Jim Brown (along with Pontefract) to discuss the UVic/Telus MBA program and the  corporatization of academe.

The 12 minute segment will be broadcast tomorrow (October 4, 2015), but you can stream the segment online now: Do private programs belong at public universities?

Teaching and the ideology of neutrality

This week, in my course on secondary social studies curriculum, we discussed various ideological stances toward curriculum. Predictably, the issue of “neutrality” in social studies teaching came up.

Indeed, my students reported that as part of their professional preparation in the UBC B.Ed. program they have been repeatedly told that teachers should always strive for neutrality in their classrooms, I disagree.

Teaching (and curriculum) cannot be separated from politics. And, adopting the ideology of neutrality is to surrender agency and professionalism as a classroom teacher.

The ideology of neutrality is based upon theories of knowledge and conceptions of democracy that constrain rather than widen civic participation and has consequences that include passive, rather than active, learning; representation of democratic citizenship as a spectator project; and ultimately the maintenance of status quo inequalities in society.

Below is an excerpt from a recent paper I wrote with Kevin D. Vinson that takes up the issue.

Ideology of Neutrality, or What Exactly Are We Protecting Students From?

… Educators often eschew openly political or ideological agendas for teaching and schools as inappropriate or “unprofessional.” The question, however, is not whether to allow political discourse in schools or to encourage particular social visions in the classroom, but rather what kind of social visions will be taught?

There is a misguided and unfortunate tendency in our society to believe that activities that strengthen or maintain the status quo are neutral or at least non-political, while activities that critique or challenge the status quo are “political” and inappropriate. For example, for a company to advertise its product as a good thing, something consumers should buy, is not viewed as a political act. But, if a consumer group takes out an advertisement charging that the company’s product is not good, perhaps even harmful, this is often understood as political action.

This type of thinking permeates our society, particularly when it comes to schooling and teaching. “Stick to the facts.” “Guard against bias.” “Maintain neutrality.” These are admonitions or goals expressed by some teachers when asked to identify the keys to successful teaching. Many of these same teachers (and teacher educators) conceive of their roles as designing and teaching courses to ensure that students are prepared to function non-disruptively in society as it exists. This is thought to be a desirable goal, in part, because it strengthens the status quo and is seen as being an “unbiased” or “neutral” position. Many of these same teachers view their work in school as apolitical, a matter of effectively covering the curriculum, imparting academic skills, and preparing students for whatever high-stakes tests they might face. Often these teachers have attended teacher education programs designed to ensure that they were prepared to adapt to the status quo in schools.

Anyone who has paid attention to the debates on curriculum and school reform knows that schooling is a decidedly political enterprise (DeLeon & Ross, 2010; Mathison & Ross, 2008a; Mathison & Ross, 2008b; Ross & Gibson, 2007; Ross & Marker, 2005a, 2005b, 2005c). The question in teaching (as well as teacher education and school reform) is not whether to allow political discourse in schools or whether to advocate or not, but the nature and extent of political discourse and advocacy. “The question is not whether to encourage a particular social vision in the classroom but what kind of social vision it will be” (Teitelbaum, 1998, p. 32).

It is widely believed that neutrality, objectivity, and unbiasedness are largely the same thing and always good when it comes to schools and teaching. But, consider the following. Neutrality is a political category—that is—not supporting any factions in a dispute. Holding a neutral stance in a conflict is no more likely to ensure rightness or objectivity than any other and may be a sign of ignorance of the issues. Michael Scriven (1991) puts it this way: “Being neutral is often a sign of error in a given dispute and can be a sign of bias; more often it is a sign of ignorance, sometimes of culpable or disabling ignorance” (p. 68). Demanding neutrality of schools and teachers comes at a cost. As Scriven points out there are “clearly situations in which one wants to say that being neutral is a sign of bias” (p. 67). For example, being neutral in the debate on the occurrence of the Holocaust; a debate on atomic theory with Christian Scientists; or a debate with fundamentalist Christians over the origins of life and evolution. To rephrase Scriven, it seems better not to require that schools include only neutral teachers at the cost of including ignoramuses or cowards and getting superficial teaching and curriculum.

Absence of bias is not absence of convictions in an area, thus neutrality is not objectivity. To be objective is to be unbiased or unprejudiced. People are often misled to think that anyone who comes into a discussion with strong views about an issue cannot be unprejudiced. The key question, however, is whether and how the views are justified (e.g., Scriven, 1994).

“A knowledge claim gains objectivity…to the degree that it is the product of exposure to the fullest range of criticisms and perspectives” (Anderson, 1995, p. 198). Or as John Dewey (1910) argued, thoughts and beliefs that depend upon authority (e.g., tradition, instruction, imitation) and are not based on a survey of evidence are prejudices, prejudgments. Thus, achieving objectivity in teaching and the curriculum requires that we take seriously alternative perspectives and criticisms of any particular knowledge claim. How is it possible to have or strive for objectivity in schools where political discourse is circumscribed and neutrality is demanded? Achieving pedagogical objectivity is no easy task. The objective teacher considers the most persuasive arguments for different points of view on a given issue; demonstrates evenhandedness; focuses on positions that are supported by evidence, etc.

This kind of approach is not easy, and often requires significant quantities of time, discipline, and imagination. In this light, it is not surprising that objectivity is sometimes regarded as impossible, particularly with contemporary social issues in which the subject matter is often controversial and seemingly more open to multiple perspectives than in the natural sciences. However, to borrow a phrase from Karl Popper, objectivity in teaching can be considered a “regulative principle,” something toward which one should strive but which one can never attain. (Corngold & Waddington, 2006, p. 6)

The “ideology of neutrality” that dominates current thought and practices in schools (and in teacher education) is sustained by theories of knowledge and conceptions of democracy that constrain rather than widen civic participation in our society and functions to obscure political and ideological consequences of so-called “neutral” schooling, teaching, and curriculum. These consequences include conceptions of the learner as passive; democratic citizenship as a spectator project; and ultimately the maintenance of status quo inequalities in society.

For more on this issue, you may want to read this piece: “Redrawing the Lines: The Case Against Traditional Social Studies Instruction.”

CFP: Critical Theories in the 21st Century

Critical Education is proud to be the sponsor journal for Critical Theories in the 21st Century at West Chester University.

4th annual:
critical theories in the twenty first century:
a conference of transformative pedagogies
november 6th & 7th

location:


West Chester University
700 South High St, West Chester, PA 19383

2015 THEME:
CRITICAL PEDAGOGY VS. CAPITAL:
REIGNITING THE CONVERSATION

Sponsored by:
Educational Foundations
The Department of Professional and Secondary Education
West Chester University of Pennsylvania

Closing Conference Keynote (November 7th):
Dave Hill

Call For Papers
The 4th Annual Conference on Critical Theories in the 21st Century aims to reinvigorate the field of critical pedagogy. The primary question driving this conference is: What is to be done to make critical pedagogy an effective educational weapon in the current struggle against capitalism and imperialism?

There is no doubt that we are at a critical juncture in history in terms of the limits of nature’s vital ecosystems, the physical limits of the progressive accumulation of capital, and the deepening reactionary ideology and scapegoating that exacerbates the oppression of youth of color. If critical pedagogy is to play a significant role in intervening in the current context, then a sharpened sense of purpose and direction is needed.

Some examples of possible topics include:

  • Marxism
  • Post-structuralism/post-modernism
  • Anarchism
  • Challenging the unholy trinity of state, capital, and religion
  • Class and the capital-labor dialectic
  • Identity and economics
  • Hierarchical and vertical forms of organization (i.e., vanguards versus networks)
  • Reform versus revolution
  • Socialism, communism, & democracy
  • Affect theory and the new materialisms
  • The knowledge economy, post-Fordism, and “cognitive capitalism”
  • Critical geography

While this conference will include important presentations and debates in critical pedagogy, it will not be limited to this focus. In other words, as critical theory becomes more inclusive, global, and all encompassing, this conference welcomes more than just academics as important contributors. That is, we recognize students and youth groups as possessing authentic voices based on their unique relationship to capitalism and will therefore be open to them as presenters and discussion leaders.

While this conference will include important presentations and challenging discussions based in critical pedagogy, it will not be limited to this focus. In other words, as critical theory becomes more inclusive, global, and all encompassing, this conference welcomes more than just academics as important contributors.

Please submit abstract proposals (500-1000 words) to:
Curry Malott (cmalott@wcupa.edu)

Proposal due date: September 27th, 2015

Public lecture by Jan Masschelein: Public Lecture ‘Reclaiming the School as Pedagogic Form’ Dr. Jan Masschelein

Institute for Critical Education Studies
Faculty of Education
University of British Columbia

Public Lecture
‘Reclaiming the School as Pedagogic Form’

Dr. Jan Masschelein
(Katholieke Universiteit Leuven)

May 12, 2015
12:00 – 2:00pm

Scarfe 1214
(Education Building, UBC Vancouver)

 In my contribution I will use the word ‘school’ to refer to a specific pedagogic form i.e. a concrete way (including architecture, practices, technologies, pedagogical figures) to gather people and things (arranging their company and presence) so that, on the one hand, it allows for people to experience themselves as being able to take care of things, and, at the same time and on the other hand, to be exposed to something outside of themselves (the common world). It is a very specific combination of taking distance and (allowing for) re-attachment. As a consequence, the term ‘school’ is not used (as is very often the case) for so-called normalizing institutions or machineries of reproduction in the hands of the cultural or economic elites. There is reproduction and normalizing, of course, but then the school does not (or does no longer) function as a pedagogic form.

Put differently: schools are particular ways to deal with the new generations and to take care of the common world that is disclosed for them. If education is the response of a society to the arrival of newcomers, as Hannah Arendt formulates it, and if schools are particular ways of doing this, ways that are different from initiation and socialization, ways that offer the new generations the possibility for renewal and the opportunity of making its own future, i.e. a future that is not imposed or defined (destined) by the older one, ways that imply to accept to be slowed down (in order to find, or even, make a destiny), ways that accept that education is about the common world (and not individual resources), then we could state that the actual ‘learning policies’ of the different nation states as well as of international bodies are in fact threatening the very existence of schools (including school teachers). 

To reclaim the school, then, is not simply about restoring classic or old techniques and practices, but about actually trying to develop or experiment with old and new techniques and practices in view of designing pedagogic forms that work under current conditions, that is, that actually slow down, and put society at a distance from itself.

Jan MasscheleinJan Masschelein is head of the Laboratory for Education and Society, and of the research group Education, Culture and Society at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium). His research concerns the public and societal role of education and schooling, the role of the university, the changing experiences of time and space in the age of the network, the educational meaning of cinema and camera, the architecture of schools and architecture of the learning environment, a pedagogy of attention, the notion of ‘pedagogy’, the pedagogical role of teachers and social workers. His book, In Defense of School (with Maarten Simons) is available at http://goo.gl/NN4XeD.

 

Teacher Education: Demands from the Boundaries #newbook

The new book Teacher Education: Demands from the Boundaries, by Hector Gomez and Fernando Murillo Munoz intends to generate a space of discussion, reflection and dissemination of outlying or peripheral perspectives and topics about the education of teachers, originated as a response to the installation of an hegemonic, standardized, and apparently objective discourse about this field, which is characterized by strong external control, evaluative practices centered on measurement, and subsequent causal relationship that put forth reduced representations of “quality”.

These discourses and practices have been systematically installing an idea of what is necessary instead of what is possible, expelling from the educational relations the context, its complexities and, ultimately, the subject.

The seeming certainty emerges, circulates and reproduces, generating notions of “common sense” in the actors involved in the field of teacher education, notions from which they design, manage and implement ways of “being a teacher” that allow their existence in the belief of an alleged ideological neutrality.

This book is an attempt to discuss these assumptions, reflect on their origins and forms of reproduction, and disseminate alternative ways of understanding, establishing dialogue and learning in this field.

Héctor Gómez holds a Bachelor in Education (History and Social Sciences) and a Master of Arts in Education and Curriculum. He is a professor and researcher at the Faculty of Education of Universidad Católica Silva Henríquez and Head of the Curriculum Unit at Universidad Católica Silva Henríquez in Santiago, Chile.

Fernando Murillo holds a Bachelor in Education (Teacher of English as a Foreign Language) and a Master of Arts in Education and Curriculum. A former curriculum advisor and policy maker for the Chilean Ministry of Interior, Murillo is a professor and curriculum advisor in the Faculty of Philosophy and Humanities at Universidad Alberto Hurtado and Universidad Católica Silva Henríquez in Santiago, Chile. Murillo is currently a PhD student in the UBC Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy.

The Institute for Critical Education Studies sponsored a seminar on the book by Gomez and Murillo at UBC in the fall of 2015.

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Steven Salaita – First Peoples, Palestine, and the Crushing of Free Speech (Talks at SFU & UBC)

First Peoples, Palestine, and the Crushing of Free Speech

Monday, January 12 at 7:30pm
SFU Harbour Centre, 515 West Hastings Street, Segal Rooms; Vancouver, BC
Facebook EVENT

Wednesday, January 14 at 5:00pm
Coach House at Green College, UBC; 6201 Cecil Green Park Road (off NW Marine Drive, opposite Chan Centre and Rose Parkade)
Facebook EVENT

A talk by Professor Steven Salaita, who is at the centre of an international protest against academic censorship.

Salaita, author of six books and many articles, was “unhired” from a tenured position in American Indian studies at the University of Illinois when donors pressured the university because of Salaita’s tweets on his personal Twitter account about the Gaza massacre last summer.

Because this action is widely recognized as part of a broad effort to silence voices for Palestinian rights and justice, and as one incident in the long history of colonial treatment of indigenous peoples, the case has attracted international attention.

Salaita’s books will be available at this event.

Steven Salaita & Academic Censorship“: an interview on Voice of Palestine

Embarrassing recent events in Canadian higher education #cdnpse #GeorgeRammell #RobertBuckingham @usask

I’ll admit to a quaint hope that universities are still places where dialogue and dissent are both possible and desirable, but two incidents in the last week leave me scratching my head. The first is the theft of professor George Rammell’s sculpture by the Capilano University administration, and the second is the firing of Robert Buckingham, Dean of the School of Public Health at the University of Saskatchewan. The issues in the two cases are not the same, but what both share is an unbelievable authoritarianism on the part of the upper administration, a willingness to trample on academic freedom and the absolute intolerance of resistance or disagreement about program cuts and restructuring. The point is not whether each of these universities plans for budget cutting and trimming are appropriate (that would be a different post), but the response to faculty and middle management who DARE to disagree with the upper administration. If this doesn’t have a chilling effect on everyone in Canadian higher education, well we are all being just too polite.

THE CASE OF THE MISSING SCULPTURE

At Capilano University there have been severe program cuts. One program area in which cuts are deep is the arts. George Rammell, sculpture instructor, used his scholarly form of expression to comment on those cuts ~ he created Blathering on in Krisendom, a work in progress  depicting Capilano University president Kris Bulcroft wrapped in a U.S. flag with a poodle. The sculpture went missing last week:

“I immediately called security and the guard told me that orders were given by the top level of the Administration to seize it. I could hardly believe my ears. The Administration had ordered my piece removed off campus to an undisclosed location, without any consultation or prior discussion. I was shocked and not sure if this was Canada,” Rammell stated (as reported in the Georgia Straight).

Jane Shackell, chair of the Board of Governors, released a statement saying that Capilano was “committed to the open and vigorous discourse that is essential in an academic community.” But she had the sculpture removed because it was “workplace harassment of an individual employee, intended to belittle and humiliate the president.” A post for another time, but this might well be the most egregious, inappropriate use of respectful workplace rhetoric to create a workplace where dialogue, dissent, and discourse are not allowed.

Of course, Rammell’s work is easy for the University to steal, but the parallel for some of us might be an administration that comes to your office and wipes all of the files for that critical analysis of higher education book you are working on from your computer. After being AWOL for a week, Capilano University has agreed to return Rammell’s work, but has banned the sculpture from campus and Rammell calls that censorship. It is and it isn’t harassment either. So much for academic freedom.

THE SILENCE OF THE DEANS

Then comes the news, Robert Buckingham, Dean of the School of Public Health at the University of Saskatchewan was fired, relieved of his professorial appointment and tenure, and escorted of the campus ~ for disagreeing publicly with the administration’s restructuring and budget cutting plan, TransformUS.

In discussions of TransformUS, middle managers were ordered to get in line and on board with the plan, and threatened if they spoke publicly against it. Here’s the email from the provost:

 

That a University would want deans who are lackeys and submissive to the upper administration’s “messaging” says a great deal about that administration. Unlike the CapU incident, this is less about academic freedom and all about the importance of maintaining an openness to dialogue and disagreement within the University. Such a heavy handed administrative approach assaults our sensibilities about how even the modern, corporatized U operates. On top of all that, the termination of Buckingham comes a mere five weeks from his retirement and is amazingly mean-spirited.

CAUT director, Jim Turk said:

What the president of the University of Saskatchewan has done is an embarrassment to the traditions and history of the University of Saskatchewan and it’s an embarrassment to post-secondary education across Canada. It’s inexcusable.

He’s right about that!