Daily Archives: September 5, 2015

Are We Nearing The End Of Capitalism?

E120, e130, e145,

Why does the US have 800 military bases around the world?

E120, e130,

Young Methodists Plant Churches With Environmental Gospel – The New York Times

Zach Kerzee, in plaid shirt, founder of Simple Church, led a prayer on Thursday during a weekly dinner in Grafton, Mass. Credit Katherine Taylor for The New York Times

SEPT. 4, 2015 MINNEAPOLIS — Growing up in nearby Eden Prairie, Minn., Tyler Sit felt called to be a minister. But he was not sure what kind.

“I was a cradle Methodist,” said Mr. Sit, 26, who is half-Chinese, half-European and all-Minnesotan: sweet, smiley and Protestant. “I went to church camp, did Sunday school, was youth-group leader, was in the choir, sat on worship committees.”

So Mr. Sit went searching. “I spent a lot of time with Buddhists in Zen circles, studied in India, did a mindfulness retreat with Thich Nhat Hanh,” Mr. Sit said, in a conversation that began in the May Day Café and wandered several blocks to his apartment. Then, in May 2014, visiting the Taizé Christian spiritual community in France, he decided to return to his roots.

“I realized that Christianity has within itself a deep internal religion, and also a deep ethic of social justice,” Mr. Sit said. “I don’t need to outsource to Buddhism.”

After graduating from the Candler School of Theology, at Emory University in Atlanta, Mr. Sit came home to start a church unlike most other Methodist churches. When he conceived New City Church, Mr. Sit was inspired not only by Jesus but also by diverse elements of contemporary environmentalism, from the fair-trade movement to the writings of the climate-change activist Bill McKibben.

…(read more).

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice

The Fall of the Faculty: Benjamin Ginsberg

Until very recently, American universities were led mainly by their faculties, which viewed intellectual production and pedagogy as the core missions of higher education. Today, as Benjamin Ginsberg warns in this eye-opening, controversial book, “deanlets”–administrators and staffers often without serious academic backgrounds or experience–are setting the educational agenda.

The Fall of the Faculty examines the fallout of rampant administrative blight that now plagues the nation’s universities. In the past decade, universities have added layers of administrators and staffers to their payrolls every year even while laying off full-time faculty in increasing numbers–ostensibly because of budget cuts. In a further irony, many of the newly minted–and non-academic–administrators are career managers who downplay the importance of teaching and research, as evidenced by their tireless advocacy for a banal “life skills” curriculum. Consequently, students are denied a more enriching educational experience–one defined by intellectual rigor. Ginsberg also reveals how the legitimate grievances of minority groups and liberal activists, which were traditionally championed by faculty members, have, in the hands of administrators, been reduced to chess pieces in a game of power politics. By embracing initiatives such as affirmative action, the administration gained favor with these groups and legitimized a thinly cloaked gambit to bolster their power over the faculty.

As troubling as this trend has become, there are ways to reverse it. The Fall of the Faculty outlines how we can revamp the system so that real educators can regain their voice in curriculum policy.

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice

Wannabe U: Inside the Corporate University: Gaye Tuchman

Based on years of observation at a large state university, Wannabe U tracks the dispiriting consequences of trading in traditional educational values for loyalty to the market. Aping their boardroom idols, the new corporate administrators at such universities wander from job to job and reductively view the students there as future workers in need of training. Obsessed with measurable successes, they stress auditing and accountability, which leads to policies of surveillance and control dubiously cloaked in the guise of scientific administration. In this eye-opening exposé of the modern university, Tuchman paints a candid portrait of the corporatization of higher education and its impact on students and faculty.

Like the best campus novelists, Tuchman entertains with her acidly witty observations of backstage power dynamics and faculty politics, but ultimately Wannabe U is a hard-hitting account of how higher education’s misguided pursuit of success fails us all.

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice

How the University Works: Higher Education and the Low-Wage Nation: Marc Bousquet, Cary Nelson

As much as we think we know about the modern university, very little has been said about what it’s like to work there. Instead of the high-wage, high-profit world of knowledge work, most campus employees—including the vast majority of faculty—really work in the low-wage, low-profit sphere of the service economy. Tenure-track positions are at an all-time low, with adjuncts and graduate students teaching the majority of courses. This super-exploited corps of disposable workers commonly earn fewer than $16,000 annually, without benefits, teaching as many as eight classes per year. Even undergraduates are being exploited as a low-cost, disposable workforce.

Marc Bousquet, a major figure in the academic labor movement, exposes the seamy underbelly of higher education—a world where faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates work long hours for fast-food wages. Assessing the costs of higher education’s corporatization on faculty and students at every level, How the University Works is urgent reading for anyone interested in the fate of the university.

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice

The Last Professors: The Corporate University and the Fate of the Humanities: Frank Donoghue

How is it that the number of students attending American universities has surged in recent decades, but the number of professors—especially humanities professors—has dwindled? The perplexing institutional dynamics of the modern university come in for penetrating scrutiny here. Donoghue, an Ohio State English professor, sees a troubling new conception of higher education emerging among administrators whose thinking reflects the bottom-line calculations of business executives, not the intellectual ideals of liberal-arts scholars. Inclined to view traditional professors as a costly anachronism, such administrators have been hiring low-pay adjunct instructors to replace them—and restricting their educational task to that of teaching employment skills. Even in the elite Ivy League, the humanities professors now must justify their work as a way of enhancing a school’s marketable prestige. Beleaguered professors face a dire situation in burgeoning state universities, where institutional accountants assess their research using simplistic ranking systems akin to those applied to football teams. A sobering analysis, sure to attract serious readers on and off campus.

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice