Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor archive project completed

by E Wayne Ross on January 15, 2014

Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor founding editors—Kent Puckett and Marc Bousquet—published the first issue of the journal in the fall of 1998. Closely connected to activism emerging from the Graduate Student Caucus of the Modern Language Association, the journal’s mission was defined by Bousquet in his Foreword to the first issue, “The Institution as False Horizon”:

Workplace is a … journal that asks you to join with Graduate Student Caucus as the agent of a new dignity in academic work. This means that most of its contributors will try to convince you that becoming a Workplace activist is in your immediate and personal best interest, even by the narrowest construction of careerism.

Let me be clear about this. If you’re a graduate student, I’m saying that becoming an activist today will help you get a job in your interview tomorrow.

If you’re an undergraduate, or parent, or employer, I’m saying that a dignified academic WORKPLACE delivers better education.

By “dignified” I mean very simple things.

I mean a higher-education WORKPLACE in which first-year students—those most at risk for dropping out and those requiring the best-trained and most-expert attention—can expect as a matter of course that they have registered for classes taught by persons with experience, training, and the terminal degree in their field (usually a Ph.D.), an office for conferences, a salary that makes such meetings possible, a workload that enables continuing scholarship, a telephone and answering machine, reasonable access to photocopying, and financial support for professional activities.

Remove any one of these values, and education suffers. Who would ask their accountant to work without an office? Or a telephone? Or training and professional development?

Most of the teachers encountered by students in first-year classes have none of these things. No office. No pay for meetings outside of class. No degree. Little or no training. No experience to speak of.

Little wonder that nobody’s happy with the results.

The good news is that there’s plenty of work in higher education teaching for those who want to do it. The bad news is that all of that work no longer comes in the package of tenure, dignity, scholarship, and a living wage that we call “a job.”

The struggle for dignity in the academic workplace continues and 17 years later Workplace remains a journal focused on critical analysis of and activism within universities, colleges, and schools.

Throughout it’s existence Workplace been an open-access journal. Initially housed on servers at the University of Louisville, the journal moved to the University of British Columbia and transitioned from an html-based journal to the Open Journal Systems (OJS) a journal management and publishing system  developed by the Public Knowledge Project. PKP is a multi-university initiative developing free open source software and conducting research to improve the quality and reach of scholarly publishing.

Workplace is now published by the Institute for Critical Education Studies at UBC and hosted, along with a number of other OJS journals, by the University of British Columbia Library.

The Workplace journal archive project, led by Stephen Petrina (co-director of the Institute for Critical Education Studies and Workplace co-editor), has been underway for several years and is now complete. Back issues #1-#12 are now reformatted and accessible through the journal Archives, bringing the journal up to date under a new unified numbering system and collecting the complete journal contents in one place for the first time since 2005.

This was a monumental task, facilitated by the impeccable editorial work of Graduate Assistants Maya Borhani and Michelle Gautreaux.

We encourage you to explore the very rich archives of the journal and to join us in promoting a new dignity in academic work. We welcome your submissions on issues of workplace activism and dialogue on all issues of academic labor.