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Reclaiming the Value of the Humanities

BY AARON BARLOW Maybe we can blame it all on Sputnik. Sixty years ago, next year, the Russians panicked the Americans via satellite… literally. Suddenly, research had to be sped up in new ways, and consolidated. Suddenly, the centers of the scholarly world were physicists and others whose thought could have practical application for military…

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A Hundred Miles Down the Road

From the editorial of the May/June 2016 issue of Academe: At the end of his epic trilogy U.S.A., John Dos Passos writes: “A hundred miles down the road. Head swims, belly tightens, wants crawl over his skin like ants: went to school, books said opportunity, ads promised speed. . . . A hundred miles down the…

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CUNY FACULTY UNION VOTES TO AUTHORIZE STRIKE

Update at end! After Six Years Without a Raise, 92% Vote ‘Yes’ New York—After more than six years without a raise and five years without a contract for its members, the union of faculty and professional staff at The City University of New York announced that 92% of the union’s voting members have voted to…

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Uber, Adjuncts and Exploitation: The Same Old Thing (Let’s Fight!)

BY AARON BARLOW Jim Hightower, discussing the Uber “defeat” in Austin, TX, writes about the “gig economy”: This “alternative work arrangement” is not a futuristic concept — it’s already here and spreading fast. And it’s not just ride-hiring gigs either. Some 16 percent of U.S. workers are now in this on-call, temporary, part-time, low-pay, you’re-on-your-own…

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Snobbery

Originally posted on One Flew East:
When Industrial Age technology began to catch up with the printing trade, several things happened. One of these was the splitting of a single profession into several. Though there had been compositors and pressmen and editors before, in most shops the roles were played by individuals who could slip…

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‘Punch with Care’

BY AARON BARLOW Every discipline falls into a pattern of standard practice; every few years each must reassess. The same is true for the institutions that house them. This happens, of course, too rarely—in both cases. Over the weekend, I read two pieces—an essay and a book review—that made me think about the staleness that…

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The Road Taken

BY AARON BARLOW When I was an undergraduate, students and faculty saw a great deal of each other. We went to dinner at faculty homes, saw our teachers at concerts and art shows as well as frequently throughout the day. The faculty lived near campus and students were the prime focus of their professional lives.…

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GIGO University

BY AARON BARLOW Yesterday, for April Fools Day, I posted Gig University, an only slightly satiric look at where some people would like higher education to head. It presents a reductivist vision of humanity and human possibilities. We—or, at least, the masses of us—become nothing more than material to be processed or cogs to fit…

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Gig University

There’s no point in continuing college and university structures as they have existed for over a century. They’re too expensive, inefficient and poorly focused. An entire culture has built up around them, including assumptions about the experience, the faculty and the outcome. These can all be swept away without materially affecting the quality of instruction…