Post Academic

Broke-Ass Schools: The last Middlesex U-or Kingston U-Philosophy update

Posted in Broke-Ass Schools by Arnold Pan on June 26, 2010
Tags: , ,

This will probably be the last update on the Middlesex U Philosophy Center saga that has been going on for a few months now, which brought out some of the world’s best-known philosophy types to tackle the growing epidemic of broke-ass schools.  This is finally the final word on the matter,  because there’s a happy ending to the story: The highly rated Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy (CRMEP), which was downsized at Middlesex despite being it’s top-rated program, is headed to Kingston University in London.  The CRMEP’s renowned M.A. and Ph.D. programs will continue on at Kingston, and all the students and some of the staff will be able to move with the program.

"Kingston University" by demian (Creative Common license)

The way the Save Middlesex Philosophy blog sees it, the decision by Kingston to take on the CRMEP is pretty much an in-your-face to the bean-counting admin at Middlesex–maybe they could hire one of those “Wide Load” house-moving trucks that take up two lanes on the freeway to metaphorically up and leave Middlesex for Kingston!  Part of the story is that Kingston is expanding its humanities programs, so maybe one school’s dead-weight is another’s potential moneymaker.  According to the blog:

Unlike Middlesex, Kingston is expanding rather than cutting back its provision in humanities subjects, and it is investing in research in these areas. In addition to taking on CRMEP staff, Kingston will be making a number of other high-level appointments over the coming months, and is launching its own London Graduate School in conjunction with colleagues from several other Universities internationally.  We believe that Kingston will provide an enthusiastic and supportive base for the activities of the CRMEP.

Apparently, a few other institutions on the continent are itching to collaborate with the CRMEP, so maybe this whole situation has only helped to boost its international profile.  The blog also points out how the multi-national effort to save Middlesex–or, rather, Kingston, now–philosophy has galvanized movements to protect at-risk humanities depts in England and elsewhere.  In any case, some folks really, really deserve to take some time off this summer–Congrats for giving us an example of self-preservation, Kingston U Philosophy!

Follow-Ups (Yes, with another Zizek/SNL update)

Hope you are all enjoying your Memorial Day weekends!  We just wanted to follow up on a few stories we’ve covered here on the blog.

"UC logo" (Public Domain)

UC Budget Crisis: Earlier this month, we wrote about how the Governator was refusing to sign a state budget that did not include substantially more robust funding to the UCs, the Cal States, and community colleges, to the tune of replenishing $848 million of the $1.7 billion taken out the higher education systems.  The go-to blog on issues related to the UC budget crisis, Remaking the University, offers a skeptical take on Gov. Ahnold’s talk about funding increases to higher ed.  In particular, Michael Meranze points out that the tuition hikes for 2010-11 are still in place.

While we’re not exactly sure what’s happening on that front, the breaking news on the budget front from the UC–surprise, surprise–is all about further cuts and not about refilled coffers.  The latest involves a streamlining of the UC system to maximize efficiencies by centralizing certain operations like payroll and purchasing (that’s my best approximation of admin speak), rather than letting each UC campus do its own thing.  The LA Times has decided it likes this move, although Remaking the University that the news only obscures the fact that the “UC’s state funding remains destructively low”.

Middlesex U Philosophy: A lot has happened since we covered the impending shuttering of the Middlesex U Philosophy department.  Four Middlesex Philosophy students and three faculty members were suspended by the university for participating in “occupation” events.  This action has triggered a response from intellectuals from Europe and the U.S.–with Etienne Balibar first into the breach–rallying in support of their colleagues and decrying the decision of the Middlesex admin.  The suspensions have only intensified efforts to defend the Philosophy dept, leading to another set of protests this past Thursday.  For more info, check out the Save Middlesex Philosophy blog.

"Slavoj Zizek" by Mariusz Kubik (Creative Commons license)

The Slavoj Zizek/SNL Campaign: This wouldn’t be an end of the week follow up without an update on the Zizek/SNL Facebook campaign.  The member roll of the Facebook fanpage has swelled to 4,760 and the effort has yielded write-ups in Inside Higher Ed and even Huffington Post.  All the attention has swept up the campaign’s originator, Alexander Hanna, who sent an email to the Facebook fans urging them to spread the word to likeminded folks and  “actually make this happen”–so we’re doing out part!  Don’t know if 4,760 viewers would exactly constitute a ratings bonanza for SNL, since it took at least (more than?) 500,000 fans to get Betty White on SNL–though, hey, 4,760 fans is nothing to sneeze at, especially when the Post Academic Facebook fanpage has been stuck on 58 members for a while now!  Maybe a reality check is in order, but 4,760 fans could probably get Zizek on Carson Daly or something?

And get this: the man himself is speaking at UCI this coming Friday, June 4.  What if we got a little hat with a “Press” tag stuck in the band and asked Zizek whether he knows about the campaign?  That might make for a more memorable academic celeb sighting than the Homi Bhabha fiasco.

Follow-Ups, from A(naconda) to Z(izek)

Let’s follow up on some of the recent posts we’ve put up.  You’ll have to keep reading to understand why we have images of an anaconda and Slavoj Zizek here.  What’s odder is that the anaconda is probably more directly relevant to the follow-up than Zizek is!

"Green Anaconda" by Stevenj (Creative Commons license)

Alternative Careers in (Post)Gradland: Last week, we mentioned that the great blog Gradland had put up some very illuminating posts on non-tenure track careers for academics, discussing adjuncting and high school teaching.  Well, Gradland is back with some more options in the movie biz and the publishing industry.  The former is where Anaconda comes in, cause Gradland’s subject “Alice” was hired to do research for the J-Lo/Ice Cube/Jon Voight vehicle.

Freelance Writing Tips from the Legends: In last week’s Footnotes, we mentioned a handy advice piece for freelance critic types posted on Geeta Dayal’s blog — which I apparently forgot to link!  This week, PopMatters–gotta put in a plug for my home team!–began a series of articles asking renowned music writers and editors to offer their best tips to aspiring and/or struggling freelancers.  Hey, anything a hall-of-famer like Robert Christgau has to offer is something I’d be listening to!

"Slavoj Zizek" by Pablo Secca (Creative Commons license)

Broke-Ass Update on Middlesex University: We covered the cause célèbre that the Middlesex U Philosophy department in the UK has become for scholars worldwide.  This thoughtful column written by John Protevi for Inside Higher Ed explores what might be the ramifications of the downsizing of Middlesex U Philosophy for programs and depts Stateside.

…with a little bonus Zizek!: So how does Slavoj Zizek come into play here and why?  Remember that he’s one of the academic superstars cosigning a letter of support for Middlesex U Philosophy?  That answers how and here’s the why: À la the Betty White campaign, there’s a Facebook fan page petitioning Zizek to host SNL!  Though not only does it (obviously!) pale in size to the B. White petition, but, at 967 members, it’s also behind around 13-to-1 to the Save Middlesex U Philosophy fanpage.

Broke-Ass Schools: Middlesex University (UK) Philosophy

"Atrium at Middlesex University London at night" by Fox8901 (Public Domain)

Since we’re on the topic of academic celebs, here’s a case where they’re using their superpowers for good, fighting the epidemic of Broke-Ass Schools: Though Homi Bhabha hasn’t signed on as far as we can tell, superstars from B (Alain Badiou) to Z (Slavoj Zizek) are rallying to try and save the day for the Middlesex University philosophy program in the UK.  Many of you might have learned about this already from your Facebook news feed since a lot of academic types have joined the “Save Middlesex Philosophy!” fanpage, which now numbers of 12,000 members from around the world.  Along with the powerhouses mentioned above, esteemed scholars like Etienne Balibar, Judith Butler, Hardt & Negri, and Gayatri Spivak have co-signed a letter to the Times Higher Education in the UK speaking out against the proposed shutdown of one of the preeminent philosophy programs in Europe (which I guess we can assume is true, based on the caliber of its supporters).

Some choice quotes from the letter, below the fold