GenX women in higher ed from around the globe

Posts Tagged ‘Social Movements’

When Tenure Disappears: Walking Away from the Ivory Towers

In Happy Mondays on 2010/07/26 at 19:30

Mary Churchill, writing from Boston, Massachusetts in the USA.

When William Julius Wilson wrote When Work Disappears in 1996, he wasn’t saying that work was actually disappearing. He was saying that work as urban poor folks had known it had been forever changed – factory jobs with benefits had all but disappeared. Today, new positions at factories receive thousands of applications and people are willing to move their families halfway across the country for a full-time job with health insurance. I grew up in a GM family in Flint, Michigan. My father worked night shifts on the line. When he died in 1984, his annual salary was in the $50k range and our family had amazing health benefits. Those jobs have disappeared.

Twenty years later, I earned my PhD and entered a surprisingly similar job market with what seemed like a handful of tenure-track positions receiving hundreds of applications. Tenure-track positions are disappearing. Changes in both of these sectors are the result of changes in the economy and the nature of work. The company is no longer loyal to us and we are no longer loyal to the company. We cannot afford to fool ourselves into believing that these changes have not had radical impacts on work within higher education.

At the same time, we are being told that we need to “constantly reinvent” ourselves to remain relevant and marketable. Many of us have parents who worked for the same company for 40 years – they had been bored and it had been “just a job.” At that time, there had been a discrete line between their jobs and the rest of their lives. This line has disappeared. In academia, we have been trained to think for a living and we cannot stop ourselves from thinking, all the time. We aim for a work/life balance that provides the space for creativity. We believe that meaningful work should have an impact outside of the workplace and that a meaningful life should have an impact outside of the home.

So, how do we get there?

One problem lies in the fact that we are being trained under an old model. In the majority of our PhD programs, we are trained for one position, one role – that of faculty member, one who is primarily a researcher and secondarily a teacher. We take courses in theory and methods within our discipline. We are not taught the theories and methods of teaching. We do not complete practicums in teaching. It is assumed that we are brilliant thinkers who will be able to convey the results of our research in our courses. This is rarely the case.

We need to rethink PhD training. As tenure disappears and PhD enrollments continue to rise, we have to accept the fact that PhD candidates need to be trained to work outside of academia and that our knowledge-based economy needs PhD-trained knowledge workers in all sectors – not just in higher ed.

What should this include?

  1. Teacher Education – PhDs should be certified to teach high school students (Our K-12 systems are suffering and the market is flooded with unemployed and under-employed PhDs).
  2. Higher Education Management – PhDs spend enough years within their institutions – they should know how they work.
  3. Leadership Development – Teamwork, decision-making, management, communications – the basics to make PhDs productive knowledge leaders.
  4. Media Training – Communicating ideas to a larger audience-Why do we keep some of our best-trained minds from having an impact?

We are squandering the wealth of our knowledge workers. We are forcing them into the confines of a narrowly prescribed identity where the majority write for free and teach classes at rates that keep them at poverty levels. Many are severely depressed, disengaged, and forgoing long-term partnerships and families of their own.

Let’s turn this around.

If tenure is disappearing, let’s face this head on. Let’s create a vision. Don’t train your PhD students to become your replacements. Train them to create a new society, a better society. Give them the hope that they can make an impact and change the world. Don’t pitch them into a snake pit of hopeless competition for a diminishing number of positions.

Train them to become knowledge catalysts, to make a difference.

Train them to walk away from the ivory towers.

Mary Churchill is the Executive Director of University of Venus.

This post was inspired by many conversations over the years. I would like to thank Diana Brydon and Kris Olds for sending great reads my way. I would also like to thank Jim Stellar, Sara Wadia Fascetti, and Leanne Doherty for recent discussions on the topic; the amazing writers at UVenus for being inspirational rock stars; and our incredibly supportive editors at IHE.

The Influencers:

  • Burawoy, Michael.2010. “A New Vision of the Public University.” Transformations of the Public Sphere series. Social Science Research Council (SSRC) website. Brooklyn, NY: USA. (link here).
  • Clemens, Randy. July 6, 2010. “Taking down the ivory towers: A new role for universities.” 21st Century Scholar blog (link here).
  • COACHE. 2010. The Experience of Tenure-Track Faculty at Research Universities: Analysis of COACHE Survey Results by Academic Area and Gender. COACHE: The Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. (link here)
  • Craig, Natalie. July 12, 2010. “Successful women are a study in flexibility.” The Age. Australia. (link here).
  • Croxall, Brian. July 15, 2010. “Six Ways to Make Adjuncting More Effective and Fulfilling.” Prof Hacker blog. The Chronicle. USA.(link here).
  • The Huffington Post. July 13, 2010. “Female Profs Less Satisfied in Jobs than Males: Study.” (link here).
  • Jaschik, Scott. July 12, 2010. “Job Satisfaction and Gender.” Inside Higher Ed. USA. (link here).
  • Maas, Bruce and Michael Zimmer. July 7, 2010. “What Do Newer Generation Faculty Want from IT Services?” EDUCAUSE Presentation. (link here).
  • Macleod, Hugh. July 3, 2010. “’the only way to keep your job nowadays is to constantly reinvent it’” The Gaping Void blog. (link here)
  • Wilson, Robin. July 4, 2010. “Tenure, RIP: What the Vanishing Status Means for the Future of Education.” The Chronicle. USA. (link here).
  • Wilson, William Julius. 1996. When Work Disappears: The World of the New Urban Poor. Alfred A. Knopf. New York, NY: USA.

This post was also published on Inside Higher Ed.

Loyalty or Desperation?

In Uncategorized on 2010/06/30 at 09:00

Guest blogger, Lee Elaine Skallerup, writing from Kentucky in the USA.

I didn’t teach last semester (Winter 10). It was the first time I had been out of the classroom, away from students, for almost 10 years.  And it wasn’t because I didn’t have the opportunity to teach, it’s because I decided that I didn’t like the conditions under which I would be teaching.

Go anywhere online that talks about issues in higher ed (Chronicle, Inside Higher Ed, countless blogs) and you can read about the current plight of teachers at colleges and universities. Increasing reliance on adjunct teachers and harsh punishment for any sign of disloyalty from those who are lucky enough to hold full-time/tenure-track appointments.  I, to some, showed my disloyalty by refusing to teach a class whose timing would severely impact my quality of life, turning the course down at the last minute while I waited to see if another opportunity came through so we could make the bills.

“Roxie Smith” wrote on her blog about academic loyalty/disloyalty in regards to a (female) provost who was fired by the (male) president of their university for looking for another job. She writes that there has been a “shift in the academy from a decentralized administrative structure to the much more centralized, top-down model that has taken hold as universities have come to be run more like corporations in recent years. We deplore that shift in part because it encourages — even, indeed, forces — faculty to think of themselves as independent contractors rather than as members of a collective with a stake in the future of the institution.”

Bingo.

I don’t know anyone, other than the administrative assistants and the professor who hired me, where I am currently teaching.  I don’t have any motivation, either.  I was told upfront that I would never get a full-time job there because my specialty and interests were not a priority.  Can I help it if I adapt as mercenary an approach to being an adjunct as they take towards adjuncts? Nothing personal, just business.  I am dedicated to the students I teach, but not to the institution. I now consider myself an independent educator. No one owns me or my loyalty.  Is it any surprise, then, that institutions that too heavily rely on contingent faculty have problems with retention and completion rates?

This is not to say that I am not dedicated to trying to change higher ed for the better; I’ve decided to think big instead.  When I read articles that claim that higher ed still cares about students, academic freedom, etc, I wonder if change can really come from within.  It’s one thing to care, it’s another thing to actually do something about it.  I have written elsewhere that women especially hit a glass ceiling because they make up such a huge percentage of the contingent faculty ranks and are thus cut off from ascending the ranks of administration where they can truly have an impact.  So, I’m breaking rank and going at it differently.

A colleague asked me about what message this teachers our younger generation, when we become so disloyal to institutions that were at one time the bedrock of our culture and society? I  respond by asking what lesson am I teaching my daughter if she sees me working long, horrid hours for basically nothing, increasingly doing volunteer work in the slim hope that one day the institution will reward me for my hard work and “loyalty”? And every year watching me stress out because I don’t know if I will have enough courses to pay the bills, qualify for heath insurance? And every time there is a position opening, watching me go from hope to despair as the job goes to another (usually external) candidate?

Loyalty is important. But, my loyalty has to be earned. I want to teach my children that you do not reward people or institutions who abuse and exploit you with your loyalty.  I refuse to let them confuse loyalty with desperation.

Lee Elaine Skallerup has a PhD from the University of Alberta in Comparative Literature. She has taught in two Canadian provinces and three States, and is now branching out as an Edupreneur. You can visit her blog at collegereadywriting.blogspot.com and follow her on Twitter (@readywriting).

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Can the Subaltern Tweet?

In Guest Blogger on 2010/06/28 at 09:00

Guest blogger, Ernesto Priego, writing from London, England in the UK.


I am not sure I could be writing these lines in any other language than English. It is very possible you could not read these words were I writing them in my native language –Spanish–, because there might not be a platform where I could –or perhaps want to– publish it, at least not without me as an author facing the danger of a negative critical backlash. I say this to state my awareness of a relatively privileged position, of me as an author of this text in the present form in which you are reading it as enabled by specific technologies.

The effects of colonialism still disempower individuals, often reducing them to roles of consumption rather than production.

How can we live up to the promise of the Internet and the Web without erasing each other?

I believe a way in which the subaltern can make herself heard/read/seen at a planetary level is through a conscious, often painful process  where individuals learn to see the English language and specific technologies as tools to think with and to do things, not just to consume things passively. This shift is also political: it means to stop seeing oneself as the oppressed of a given hegemonic power.  This shift does not mean abandoning,or even less, repressing national languages or cultural traits. On the contrary, user-generated online content, with metadata in several languages and geo-tagging can be an essential part of this process.

One of the goals would be the inclusion of this content within the network of academic knowledge production. This would work as an act of online self-determination, understood as the freedom of misrepresented individuals and communities to determine their own online content.

In other words, online self-determination is necessary to affect the wider international community of communities by populating the Web with tagged, hyper-linked multilingual content. Online self-determination can also mean one’s technical, and very importantly, financial ability to represent and edit oneself and one’s culture(s) online, and to decide how they will achieve online relevance/visibility/ranking without being overshadowed by more dominant national languages and/or economies.

Perhaps a community of communities may seem idealistic.

Disciplinary, social, geographical, national, linguistic and financial borders are realities that   internet access has not and cannot erase. Deeply rooted cultural traits/practices and beliefs are also obstacles to a practical critique of power dynamics in the language of those who are often perceived as the oppressors.

Computers are not places we live in, but they affect the way we think about ourselves and the planet.

Computers do not make the subaltern or marginalised individual think she can control the “globe”; on the contrary, computers can be windows to an inhospitable world. As means of establishing relations with Others, national languages and online technologies can both create communities and alienate large numbers of individuals. Simultaneously, computers have in fact transformed and continuously transform our ideas of who we are, what we do and how many we are.

A specific politics of planetary online friendship is at stake. Online decolonization and daily exercises of online self-determination are ways of befriending Others by acknowledging them as our contemporaries regardless of the time zone they might be in.

We start by recognizing our current positions.

The hyperlinking will follow.

Ernesto Priego was born in Mexico City and now lives in London. He is a PhD candidate in Information Studies at University College London. He has a background in English, comparative literature and cultural studies. His research sits at the crossroads of comics scholarship, history of the book and digital humanities.

 

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Why I am still away from academia

In Guest Blogger on 2010/06/23 at 09:00

Guest blogger, Ana Dinescu, writing from Berlin, Germany.

For a long time now, I have chosen to stay away from academia. It is neither a confession nor an excuse. It went simply like this: even though I continue to have a strong interest in everything related to intellectual activities of any kind, I decided a long time ago, that  becoming a full part of the academic establishment was never the first, second, or even third or fourth option for my professional career.  And this was and is a decision I will most likely continue observing.

One of the first things I became aware of when my capacity of social understanding was surfacing and expanding was my wish for a job where my joy of reading and spending hours in theoretical discussions of any kind, would happily meet with my sense of reality and aspiration for change. My idea of change – mentalities, ideas, people – was still vague, but I was very much aware of the need to go beyond the strict theoretical ruminations. In this case, what else could be more advisable than an academic career? Before taking into consideration this alternative, I knew that I wanted to become a journalist above all else. It was probably a sense of adventure, another kind of daily challenge and, at the time, a huge potential for change in a country such as Romania. I continued to follow my academic interests, with university and after a period, MA studies, while continuing to write about Romanian politics. School was offering me the analytical tools for better understanding and addressing the reality around me. Not always successfully, I must confess. Meanwhile, I remained attached to the academy, starting PhD studies, while making various career shifts in the middle of shifts in Romanian politics. At every decision point in my professional career, academia, again, was left far behind from the list of potential future plans.

As the daughter of a teacher, I am familiar with the pedagogical process, the tremendous work you have ahead of you every day and, not less important, the terrible bureaucratic and administrative challenges. From my friends and acquaintances active in academia, as well as from my direct professional contacts, I was aware of the hours spent dealing with time-consuming procedures, financial pressures and, in some cases, political mismanagement.

Far from being a garden of pleasures of the knowledge and thinking, academia is nowadays, in my perception, less about freedom and more about survival. Not a liberal career, but a professional plan restricted and limited by the demands of the market, as with any other job, independent of the level of one’s education. I am able to understand the mechanisms, but the more I am aware of them, the more I prefer to use my understanding and my energies for independent writing,   thinking on my own and discovering the world through written words. Most probably, being a part of the academic establishment will not be part of my plans in the next professional decade.

Ana Dinescu

Ana is a PhD candidate in history at the Faculty of History, University of Bucharest, with a background in Political Science.  She has been a journalist for ten years for Romanian daily newspapers and is currently a communications consultant, living in Berlin.

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Social Distortion: Blurring the Professional and the Personal on Twitter

In Vistas from Venus on 2010/05/14 at 09:18

One of the most memorable applications I have ever reviewed was submitted from  a student from China who was the owner of a small chain of shops that sold scarves and accessories.  Included with her application was a glossy brochure that she had had professionally printed in full color.  It showed photos of her in her shops, photos from her vacations, and photos of her with her friends and family.  It also included her biography, a history of her company, and a page on her likes and pet peeves.  Although it was unconventional, this woman was very confident about selling herself to us in a way that she had well thought out.

Yesterday, Mary and I met for coffee and of course, University of Venus came up.   Mary has been encouraging me to build my personal brand through social media: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.  I have been resisting Mary’s advice for months.

I mainly use Facebook to entertain.  My Facebook friends are actually my friends and family.  I am a regular Facebook user; it is my main form of communication with people that I don’t see every day.  Until the launch of this blog, I had never used it for anything professional.  Each day the line dividing personal and professional blurs a little more.

I am a lurker on Twitter.  I follow a few people, and have 5 close friends that follow me, but I rarely tweet and my tweets are private.   I have been reluctant to start publicly tweeting, until I know what I want to use it for. Twitter seems to need a strategy, a marketing plan of sorts.  In the meanwhile, I read other people’s tweets, and try to learn from their strategies.

I am terrified of LinkedIn.  I put up my resume, connected with a few people, and have been afraid to log in ever since.  I suppose I am an avoider. It is clear that LinkedIn is Professional. A friend who is also new to social media once said the following: “I’ve been told that LinkedIn is the office, Facebook is the neighborhood cookout, and MySpace is the bar.” When your home office and the local coffee shop become extensions of your workplace, where do you draw the line? Are you a different person in different contexts?

Although my relationship with these three networks varies, I do think that building my brand is important.

I am in a strange place in my career.  I am no longer new to the world of work, and I am a member of the senior leadership team.  However, I don’t think I have paused to think about what I stand for or what I want to be known for.   I need to focus on thinking  of myself as an asset that is compelling, authentic, and consistent.  I need to create my own definition of success and ensure that it motivates me.  I am finding this task to be somewhat intimidating. I always thought that hard work would speak for itself. However, I now realize that self-promotion is not only a good idea but a 21st century necessity.

What do you think? Is personal branding vital for success at work? Is the concept relevant only to Western audiences, or is it also important in other areas of the world? Are there any drawbacks to marketing yourself in this way? If so, what should you do about it?

Meg Palladino

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Refuse The Silence: Women of Color Speak Out

In That's So Next Generation on 2010/05/05 at 09:00

Guest blogger, Morgane Richardson, writing from Brooklyn, NY, USA.

Morgane Veronique Richardson graduated from Middlebury College (Middlebury, VT) with a B.A. in Sociology/Anthropology and the History of Art and Architecture. Today, she is the Co-founder and President of So Elsewhere Consulting, a social media consulting firm based out of Brooklyn and Los Angeles. When she isn’t working, she spends entire days hiking or on the beach with her dog, Joplin, and writing in makeshift studios around the world.

As an undergraduate Woman of Color, I spent four years fighting for change within my college institution and had little time to think about my needs outside of my race and gender. As a result, I was often seen by the administration as the voice of Female Students of Color. Administration and faculty members recruited me to assist them in generating lists on how to better the environment for Students of Color and, eager to help, I happily obliged.

It was only after graduation – with time to breathe and the gift of retrospect – that I began to ask myself, why didn’t the administration simply ask my fellow Students of Color and let them come up with plans of action that fit them best? In other words, why was the administration asking one or two Students of Color how to fix the problems of an entire group of people?

Although it wasn’t until I had time to recover from college life that these questions started to crystallize in a productive manner, I experienced certain realizations while still a student. By my senior year I fully understood what my fellow classmates meant when they said, “They (colleges) know how to recruit us (Student of Color) into their fancy institutions but have no idea what to do with us once we get here.” It seemed obvious to us that the college’s ability to deal with the needs of a growing Woman of Color student population, trailed behind its zeal to publicly proclaim itself a “diverse” campus.

This imbalance, which continues with little sign of change, may very well be the root of the problem. These institutions don’t know how to listen to the stories of Women of Color students, nor do they understand their experiences. While they continue to give Women of Color scholarships, venues to speak out, and even cultural houses to live in, they fail to give them a microphone to be heard.

And it would seem that therein lays the answer; when I looked back as a graduate and thought, “What could we do to help these women be heard?,” I realized a simple, but grossly overlooked, approach to dealing with issues of Women of Color in academic settings: “We should let them tell us.”

And so I started, Refuse The Silence, a growing multi-media project that captures the honest experiences of Women of Color currently enrolled in elite liberal arts colleges throughout the United States. It is a space for Women of Color to tell their own stories using their medium of choice, be it through film, essays, music, poetry, etc. The stories are being compiled, in the form of video blogs and a written anthology, with the goal of presenting a suggestive plan of action to these institutions.

If you would like to get involved, please visit http://www.refusethesilence.com

To see some of the work that has been submitted, go to http://www.refusethesilenceblog.com and make sure to follow us on Twitter at, http://www.twitter.com/refusesilence

Morgane Richardson

refusethesilence@gmail.com

http://www.twitter.com/morgane_r

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Three Months Later – Talk of Non-Profit Status, an Advisory Board, and a Summer Leadership Camp

In Conversations on 2010/04/30 at 09:00

MARY:  Wow, I can’t believe it’s been three months! I feel like so much has happened with the University of Venus. When we started this adventure, I knew that we wanted to get our voices out there and that we wanted to be heard – to find a way to break through the very senior (60+), very male, and very white higher education leadership world we operated within.

MEG:  And we also wanted to engage a global voice in our conversations about higher education.  I think we have made a good start.  What next?

MARY:  Good question. We didn’t really know what UVenus was going to look like, how it was going to be received, or who was going to “like” it.

MEG:  One thing that I learned in writing my blog posts is that I wasn’t really sure what story I was going to tell until the post was written.  I think starting University of Venus has been the same way, evolving into what it is.  We didn’t know what to expect.

MARY:  Now, our talk is along the lines of “So now what?” – Great, we have the blog, the writers, the readers, a mission – is this it? Is there more? How do we move to the “change higher education” part? The “empower the next generation of leaders” part? Yesterday, we started talking non-profit status and kind of what does that look like?

MEG: We are women of ACTION.  We want to take the next step and move forward with our blog adventure.

MARY: What should we do? Some thoughts – conference, summer leadership program for women 25-45, and a summer leadership camp for high school girls. We could focus on globalization, technology, activism, networking, empowerment, and collaboration.

MEG:  Our next phase is emerging as becoming more professional, more organized, and offering more to our readers and writers.

MARY: I agree. In talking strategy and next steps, we talked about reaching out to some senior women and men who could act as a sort of Advisory Board – helping us to take our vision to the next level.

MEG:  And we talked about reaching out to some younger women to help us raise our game in the world of social media.  I am very excited about these next steps.

MARY:  There is also the book project – getting our proposal to publishers. The focus on changing higher education through the empowerment of the next generation of global leaders in education.

MEG:  There are so many ways to go, and we want to try them all!

MARY:  Thanks for joining with us on this continued adventure and thanks for your feedback. We will be back on Monday with some minor operational tweaks and more BIG IDEAS!

Budget Cuts Students Out!

In Announcements on 2010/04/13 at 09:00

Kavita Bee at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada (reposted)

When I first came to Queen’s, I was astounded by the number of student council presidents, valedictorians, and team captains I met. Peers who took on leadership positions at home. Needless to say, Queen’s is a school that prides itself on the leadership abilities of its students.

As such, it’s ironic that in my fourth year, I feel abandoned by the leadership of this institution. In January, the Principal revealed his ‘Where Next?’ Vision statement for the future of Queen’s education. This document has been presented to us as a forthright, courageous and forward-looking vision to reform Queen’s and meet future challenges.

We have been told that being able to do “less with less” is a realistic solution to the “financial crisis”, that the Vision will maintain Queen’s University’s reputation and quality of education.

I find this optimistic characterization of Woolf’s Vision highly problematic. Profound changes to the governance procedures, priorities and educational infrastructure made in the name of “progress” are being rushed without the engagement of students at large.

This is extremely frustrating as I have witnessed the passion and dedication of those very students throughout my years here, not to mention the time, energy and finances we have collectively poured and continue to pour into this institution.

A prime example of this being a small group of students, undergrads and grads, who decided that the lack of transparency and student engagement during the “academic planning process” (aka budget cutting) needed to be addressed. They organized a grassroots town hall entitled “Your Future and Queen’s”, with the assistance of faculty and staff from across disciplines, inviting all members of the university community to participate.

Over 300 students, staff and faculty attended the forum which acted as a much-needed space for discussion and information sharing. This forum was an overwhelming demonstration of the desire for more information and collective discussion amongst all community members, opportunities that our appointed leaders neglected to provide.

Whether or not you attended the meeting, it is important to ask why were students ultimately responsible for organizing an open discussion about the future of our university? Where is the dialogue across or within disciplines, amongst students, faculty and staff, that is so integral to principal Woolf’s Vision? A vision which proffers working in interdisciplinary teams to develop “innovative” ways of doing “less with less”.

I am not so naive as to believe that budget cutting does not need to happen. What I find troubling is that a temporary budgetary shortfall (with local and wider economic roots) is being used as justification for hurried and massive educational restructuring. Queen’s educational model has stood the test of time.

Making such rushed changes to the practices of teaching and research is grossly irresponsible and will result in permanent consequences. The biggest shame is that this process lacks the consultation of the university’s largest stakeholders—its students.

Without any provisions for effective information sharing and dialogue, the vision has bred panic, fear, and rumours. This environment of distrust is facilitated by the sudden appearance of town hall meetings for Arts and Science undergrads during the last week of classes, with no forums organized in the foreseeable future for other departments, staff, faculty or graduate students.

This is token participation at best.In failing to adequately share information and engage stakeholders in dialogue, this planning process simply does not represent the diverse interests of the University community, and thus cannot live up to its title as an “Academic Planning Process”.

Instead, it has pitted departments against departments and faculties against faculties, in a fight for existence—a fight for a bigger piece of a smaller pie. Meanwhile, we’re forgetting why we’re really here—to learn, collaborate, and critically engage.

All of this is not to assign blame. I appreciate the opportunity ASUS and Dean McLean have provided us this week with town hall forums and encourage everyone to attend them. However, this process should not be the end of dialogue but merely the beginning.

I want to see a real campaign by the Principal to educate students on how exactly these changes will affect our education. I want the president of my student union to be directly involved in the process. I want focus groups, town halls and real qualitative research to be undertaken that incorporates my perspective and those of my peers. I want updates on progress. We are a community of leaders with creative ideas who care about our University. And so I ask Principal Woolf to give us a chance to be a part of the process that will shape its future.

However, I am not going to wait for that opportunity to appear. The department heads tell us that their hands are tied by the demands of the Dean, the Dean argues that his hands are tied by the mandate set by the Principal, the Principal, in turn, has his hands tied by the Board of Trustees. This rhetoric displaces accountability and projects the notion that these changes are inevitable. It is our responsibility as students to fight for quality of education and not accept “hands being tied” as a valid reason for structural change. If these are indeed the sentiments of the Dean and Principal, perhaps we should bring our concerns to the Board of Trustees meeting on April 30th.

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Thursday, March 4, 2010: A Day of Action to Defend Education

In Announcements on 2010/03/04 at 09:00

Today, Thursday, March 4, is a Day of Action to Defend Education in the USA. Across the country, students, teachers, faculty, and staff will be striking and protesting to defend K-12 and higher education against budget cuts, layoffs, and tuition increases at the college and university level.

University of Venus will be following the protest updates via the sites below:

Student Activism – website has a fantastic map of protests across the nation with over 100 actions in 32 states.

Defend Education – great listing of state-by-state resources.

Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) – call to support and take action on March 4 and great statements of support from students, teachers, faculty.

Socialist Worker – will be covering the protests as they unfold.

Twitter – via the following hashtags – #march4 #ouruni #ucstrike #occupyca

If you will be participating or you have participated in events, let us know. If you would like to write a post on the protests, we would love to have your input.

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The Whys of Venus: Blogging as a Social Movement

In Mission on 2010/02/03 at 08:42

• Why Higher Education?
o Education is our passion and ultimately, we believe in the power of education to change people’s lives. Some of the most influential people in our lives have been our teachers and our students. Our teachers have inspired us to believe in ourselves, to dream big, to have passion, and to make a difference. Our current students and images of our future students inspire us to make a difference NOW, to change higher education for the better, to use our global networks to redefine education. While the current state of crisis in education most likely signals the end of an outdated system, we believe that it also offers hope for a new system.

• Why Women?
o Women are at the forefront of this shift. We are the students, the faculty, and the administration. I believe that we are more collaborative and solution-oriented than men. We are less likely to compete purely for the sake of competition. In our universities, we face a daily barrage of game-playing, power-grabbing, ladder-climbing, and an overall loss of perspective on why we are in higher education. I believe that we should never lose sight of learning, of students, of faculty. Too often, a wounded ego takes center stage in the decision-making process.

• Why GenX?
o Those of us born between 1964 and 1980 represent the next wave of leadership – not just in higher education but in all sectors. Tammy Erickson has a brilliant new book What’s Next GenX?. She calls upon us as the new heroes of the age. As a whole, we are the most educated generation in recent history. We are passionate, reactive, and action-oriented. We are the cultural and social critics of the time – the translators of languages, cultures, and identities. We rely on our “tribe” of friends and colleagues from down the street and across the globe. The blackberry/iphone is omnipresent in our lives and enables us to excel in our careers, marriages, parenting, and friendships. We bring the power of our tribes together as we become those heroes.

• Why a blog?
o We are the generation that created and launched social networking. We view Googling as a way of life and Wikipedia as a resource. We are on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. We view blogging as a social movement and the University of Venus is our rallying point. We bring together people who feel passionately about education and who want to work together for change.

If you are a high school student thinking about college, a GenY undergrad terrified of your job prospects, a recent graduate struggling to make ends meet, a GenXer striving for balance while trying to inspire others, a Boomer who has had enough and wants change, or just someone who believes in the power of education – We need your passion and ideas to help us make change happen.

Looking back on your time in high school, undergrad, grad school, or reflecting on your current work in education, if you could change ONE THING about education – what would you change? Study hall, standardized tests, cafeterias, libraries, mentoring, advising, tenure, promotion, school mascot? ( As an aside – I went from St. John Jets to Linden Eagles to Michigan State Spartans to Northeastern Huskys – I started out as a fast airplane and ended up as a sled dog..)

Mary

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