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Posts from the ‘Inequality’ Category

Hostile Workplaces

Bad workplaces in broader social context is a theme in my social reading today.

I very much recommend reading Paige West’s essay “That person at your office.” (via @subliminaries c/o @professorisin)

I also recommend a piece that I read a while back that is back in the news because the labor leader at the center of the story was apparently fired today. The story is by Sarah Kendzior and it is called “The Minimum Wage Worker Strikes Back.” (via @sarahkendzior)

Debt and Graduate Admissions

From the end of Matthew Pratt Guterl’s essay “Debt“:

There are many major issues with higher education, but the solutions to most of them are well beyond the reach of tenure-stream faculty.  Chairs and department members can’t generally compel deans to do much of anything, because decisions about financial reallocation aren’t usually made by deans – they get made by Provosts and Presidents, by big donors, by trustees, and by students, who can always take their precious credit hours elsewhere.

There is, though, a metaphorical debt to be paid here. We owe graduate students a clear shot at a degree without an interest rate on the back end (so, a reasonable stipend, workshop space, and research support, but also financial counseling and informal support mechanisms).  We owe them some very straight talk early in their coursework about an exit strategy if they aren’t going to make it.  We owe them a direct path to the degree, and structures and cultures that make it possible for them to complete their work in decent time.  We owe them degrees with somewhat flexible career outcomes.  And we owe it to them to match the size of our incoming cohorts – as best as we possibly can – to the job market success of recent graduates, and not chiefly to the sometimes self-indulgent abstractions of graduate teaching.

These things are within reach.  These things can be done.

Matt’s essay is part of a larger ongoing conversation happening with extra vigor, and also extra despair, right now. (I am not going to provide a pile of links here. If you are involved in training graduate students, are a graduate student, or think you  want to be a graduate student, you should be plugged into this conversation. If you have not found it on your own, you should be reading Inside Higher Education and those parts of the Chronicle of Higher Education that you can access (it is not all freely accessible and not everyone has access to an institutional subscription). You should also be following the discussion on Twitter (@sarahkendzior and those whom she is in dialogue with would be a good start) and elsewhere on the open web.)

The timing of the debt discussion is particularly appropriate because right now, in research universities around the United States, academic departments with graduate programs are reviewing applications from would-be masters and doctoral students. Such departments face many hard to answer questions. Who to admit and why? How many students to admit? Of those admitted, how many will come? Will we provide financial support for some or all of those we admit? How long will it take for an admitted applicant to accomplish the learning and career goals that they are describing in their application? Can we adequately mentor and train the person we are learning about in a large but partial PDF file? What will the career prospects be for these applicants two or six or eight years from now? How is my university changing and how is the world changing and how will these changes shape the experiences of, and prospects for, these applicants?

In my own department, I am deeply involved in this process right now. No one can know exactly how to answer such questions or to perfectly do this work–and it is really work. When it is done and some of those applicants join us next fall, I will try my best to fulfill those obligations that Matt outlines in his essay. At least those things seem clear.

Notes on Thoughtfulness in Scholarly Publishing (2): Tim Elfenbein on the *Why* of a la Carte Pricing in Route to a Multivariate Thoughtfulness

If you find value or interest in the discussion initiated in my post on pay per view journal article pricing and its relevance to scholarly authors and general readers, then do not miss Tim Elfenbein’s comment on that post.

Tim is the managing editor of Cultural Anthropology and an all around great person to keep up with. Among many other things, he is a knowledgeable, well-positioned reader for my post. He is a great interlocutor for many reasons, including (importantly for me) that he kindly saw that I was bracketing out a lot of important stuff. Rather than calling me out for that, he saw the opportunity to extend the conversation, adding another “note” toward a more holistic set of considerations. It should be in this slot as a guest post, but you can find his comment here. I recommend it.

Tim puts an important range of considerations on the agenda. Most directly he tackles the need to understand something about the “why” of a la carte (or pay per view) pricing, but he also points to the nature and impact of platform choices, human appreciation to those who are paying for our publishing, appreciation for those who are doing the labor behind our publishing, and recognition of the reputation (and tenure) economy and its effects. Even the ways that digital, legal, and financial transformations have devastated the old interlibrary loan model is lurking in there. All deserve revisiting or visiting. I am glad that Tim recognized that I was biting off one arbitrary chunk and that there were others lurking beneath the surface (or sitting on the surface, as with my repeated use of the word legal).

Exhibition Opening Reception | Photos in Black and White

Photos in Black and White: Margaret Bourke-White and the Dawn of Apartheid in South Africa opens this coming Friday at the Mathers Museum of World Cultures in Bloomington, Indiana. Everyone is welcome to attend the opening. Details on the opening and other events associated with the exhibition are shown below. Information can also be found on the MMWC website.

MBW Exhibition Invitation

Something I Would Really Like You to Read: Codacorolla on Public Libraries Today

I believe that William Gibson is usually correct when he says that “the future is already here, it is just not very evenly distributed yet.” In the spirit of that sentiment, there is something seemingly ephemeral that I would really like you to read. You (whomever you are) are really busy and cannot be constantly badgered to go off on literary wild goose chases, so I promise not to make such special pleas all the time.

The consistently smart and helpful Miriam Posner pointed me (and her other twitter followers) to a comment made recently on a MetaFilter post dealing with:

California rejects top rate tax increase, removes all state funding for CA libraries. Funding cut for “literacy programs, InterLibrary Loans, and miscellaneous expenses such as librarian training programs and books.

You do not need to read the whose ensemble of posts and comments to get to the piece that I would like you to read. The comment, which very vividly evokes the state of public libraries and public librarians, is by librarian and MLS graduate student “codacorolla” and it can be found here:

http://www.metafilter.com/112698/California-Dreamin#4183210

I hope that someone reading this post chooses to read this comment and to factor the bigger situation that it evokes into their commitments as a citizen.

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