CFP: Academic Labor and Law (Special Section of Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor)

by E Wayne Ross on February 27, 2009

CFP: Academic Labor and Law
Special Section of Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor

Guest Editor: Jennifer Wingard, University of Houston

The historical connections between legislation, the courts, and the academy have been complex and multi-layered. This has been evident from early federal economic policies, such as the Morell Act and the GI Bill, through national and state legislation that protected student and faculty rights, such as the First Amendment and affirmative action clauses. These connections continue into our current moment of state and national efforts to define the work of the university, such as The Academic Bill of Rights and court cases regarding distance learning. The question, then, becomes whether and to what extent the impact of legislation and litigation reveals or masks the shifting mission of the academy. Have these shifts been primarily economic, with scarcities of funding leading many to want to legislate what is considered a university education, how it should be financed, and who should benefit from it? Are the shifts primarily ideological, with political interests working to change access, funding, and the intellectual project of higher education? Or are the shifts a combination of both political and economic influences? One thing does become clear from these discussions: at their core, the legal battles surrounding higher education are about the changing nature of the university –the use of managerial/corporate language; the desire to professionalize students rather than liberally educate them; the need to create transparent structures of evaluation for both students and faculty; and the attempt to define the types of knowledge produced and disseminated in the classroom. These are changes for which faculty, students, administrators, as well as citizens who feel they have a stake in higher education, seek legal redress. This special section of Workplace aims to explore the ways in which legislation and court cases impact the work of students, professors, contingent faculty, and graduate students in the university. Potential topics include but are not limited to:

  • Academic Freedom for students and/or faculty
    • Horowitz’s Academic Bill of Rights
    • Missouri’s Emily Booker Intellectual Diversity Act
    • First Amendment court cases concerning faculty and student’s rights to freely express themselves in the classroom and on campuses
    • Facebook/Myspace/Blog court cases
    • Current legislative and budgetary “attacks” on area studies (i.e. Queer Studies in Georgia, Women’s Studies in Florida)
  • Affirmative Action
    • The implementation of state and university diversity initiatives in the 1970s
    • The current repeal of affirmative action law across the country
  • Benefits, including Health Benefits, Domestic Partner Benefits
    • How universities in states with same-sex marriage bans deal with domestic partner benefits
  • Collective Bargaining
    • The recent rulings at NYU and Brown about the status of graduate students as employees
    • State anti-unionization measures and how they impact contingent faculty
  • Copyright/Intellectual Property
    • In Distance Learning
    • In corporate sponsored science research
    • In government sponsored research
  • Disability Rights and Higher Education
    • How the ADA impacts the university
  • Sexual Harassment and Consensual Relationships
    • How diversity laws and sexual harassment policies impact the university
  • Tenure
    • The Bennington Case
    • Post 9/11 court cases

Contributions for Workplace should be 4000-6000 words in length and should conform to MLA style. If interested, please send an abstract via word attachment to Jennifer Wingard ( by Friday, May 22, 2009. Completed essays will be due via email by Monday, August 24, 2009.