Higher education

The Senior Management Survey: auditing the toxic university

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 17/02/2020 - 10:20pm in

Higher education in the UK has been defined by a succession of assessment frameworks; National Student Survey, Teaching, Research Excellence and Knowledge Exchange Frameworks. Turning the quantitative focus of these exercises onto the management of universities, Mark Erickson, Paul Hanna and Carl Walker present the findings of a survey of staff perceptions of senior management … Continued

Celebrating 15 Years of Student-Driven Progress

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 04/02/2020 - 4:59am in

“I understood that my responsibility as a student activist wasn’t simply to call attention to what was wrong but to work diligently to make it right. And I have tried to live that life, every day” —Stacey Abrams

On Saturday, January 11th, Stacey Abrams shared her hopeful wisdom with over 100 Roosevelt Network students, alumni, staff, and partners from all over the country as we celebrated 15 years of student-driven change and a vast network of tenacious, forward-looking people. Abrams, former Georgia House Minority Leader, founder of Fair Fight, and executive director of the recently launched Southern Economic Advancement Project (SEAP), gave testimony to the importance of youth activism and student policy work. I returned to NYC feeling proud of the Roosevelt Network and invigorated by our community’s commitment to changing who writes the rules. 

Much like the rules of our economy and democracy, it was a choice to host the celebration at Georgia State University. At a time when immense public power is being transferred to private hands, our public institutions are not only sacred—they are essential. A renewed sense of public power and its promise of equity and inclusion must guide our path ahead. And for too long, the rules and reality of our democracy have left out too many places and the people in them. Strongest in the Midwest and South, the network is redefining what it means to have access to power. On campuses spanning our nation—from the University of Georgia, University of North Florida, and Jackson State University, to the University of Michigan, University of Illinois, Chicago, and North Hennepin Community College—the Roosevelt Network supports student-led campaigns at the campus, local, and state levels with initiatives ranging from the 10 Ideas policy journal and Forge Fellowship to programs focused on financialization and privatization. 

As we mark this moment in the network’s history, we are on the cusp of perhaps the most important election of our lifetimes. And while a lot can happen in an election year, one thing is certain in the fight ahead: Our future is up to us, and we won’t give that power away—not to corporations, not to billionaires, and not to elites who tell us to trust a system that only works for them. What we’re bringing to the next decade, and to the next chapter of the Roosevelt Network, is an unwavering commitment to our planet and to our democracy—a commitment rooted in equality and justice. What’s key is that wherever we go next, we’re going together. No one organization or person in this movement can win alone, and we were honored to celebrate in Atlanta alongside partner organizations and allies we are honored to work with in this fight, including: Lead for America, the NAACP Youth and College Division, the SEAP, and Georgia State Representative Park Cannon. We won’t win the future unless we reclaim it side by side. 

For the past 15 years, the Roosevelt Network and its partners across the progressive movement have brought forward big, bold ideas for change; we’ve organized and mobilized, and we’ve continued to fight for an economy and democracy that work for all of us. In these years, the network has blossomed into one of the nation’s largest student policy networks, with students and alums across nearly 100 campuses and in about 40 states. And that’s just the beginning of it. Throughout our 15th year, the first year of this new decade, we will reflect on the amazing things Roosevelt Network students and alumni have achieved.

Today, Teen Vogue released a profile on Abrams—written by their politics editor, Allegra Kirkland, who joined us in Atlanta and experienced first hand the power of student-led movements and the commitment to structural change. As Kirkland highlights, the future we want depends on expanding access to political power. Check out the story here and follow the Roosevelt Network and Stacey Abrams to stay updated on their impactful and timely initiatives. 

The post Celebrating 15 Years of Student-Driven Progress appeared first on Roosevelt Institute.

How Student Movements Helped Normalize Divestiture

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 31/01/2020 - 6:39am in

The Great Democracy Initiative’s (GDI) latest report on how Dodd-Frank regulatory powers could be used to curb carbon financing offers an innovative approach to addressing the climate crisis. For the Roosevelt Network, it also reminds us that this wouldn’t be possible without the groundwork of youth-led divestiture movements that have increasingly gained momentum in recent years.

Young people have always been at the forefront of the climate movement. From the students who filed a 2015 suit against the US government, arguing that it had “violated the youngest generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property,” to Greta Thunberg and the teens who spearheaded the Youth Climate Strikes, young people have tested the boundaries of “realistic” climate action and gone beyond it—fighting for bold solutions.

Though they’ve always kept the global scale of the climate crisis top of mind, these young leaders are building new momentum with decentralized initiatives in areas of maximum agency: namely, at the campus and local levels.

Equipped with research and clear policy recommendations, students especially have been examining the financialization of their schools and finding that they’re being managed like entities whose main purpose is to produce profit—to the benefit of fossil fuel and other carbon-emitting companies. (And not just carbon-related industries: Roosevelt Network @ Columbia students, for example, led the successful divestment campaign “Barnard no Aramark,” effectively forcing the administration to drop the food service giant under allegations of misconduct and investments in private prisons.) 

And now, they’re demanding concrete action

After years of activism, several institutions are commiting to divest from mass carbon emitters, including Stanford, the University of Maine, and the University of California system—the latter of which made the largest public university divestment commitment ever last year. 

Some financial institutions seem to be moving in the right direction, too. BlackRock’s announcement to divest from thermal coal, for example, acknowledges that climate change is a real risk not only for the environment but also for investors who think carbon emissions are still a winning bet. As American environmentalist Bill McKibben put it, that development is “seismic.”

Not everyone is on the same page, though. As a 2019 report on banking and climate change revealed, the largest banks in the world have actually been expanding the financing of fossil fuel projects over the last several years.  

On the campus level, many schools have neither divested nor provided the transparency for students to examine their finances. Moreover, some of the schools with the largest endowments have resisted efforts to divest—in some cases, with arrest

Thankfully, policymakers of the future—millenials and Gen Zs—know better. As BlackRock CEO Larry Fink wrote in his divestiture notice to CEOs, “Young people have been at the forefront of calling on institutions—including BlackRock—to address the new challenges associated with climate change. They are asking more of companies and of governments, in both transparency and in action. And as trillions of dollars shift to millennials over the next few decades, as they become CEOs and CIOs, as they become the policymakers and heads of state, they will further reshape the world’s approach to sustainability.”

As Roosevelters know well, who writes the rules matters; in the case of divestiture, students have taken the lead in rewriting them. While we find avenues for action today—such as the Dodd-Frank approach proposed by Graham Steele—students show us the possibilities of tomorrow. Luckily for the planet, they’re ready. 

The post How Student Movements Helped Normalize Divestiture appeared first on Roosevelt Institute.

Book Review: Indebted: How Families Make College Work at Any Cost by Caitlin Zaloom

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 26/01/2020 - 9:15pm in

In Indebted: How Families Make College Work at Any Cost, Caitlin Zaloom draws on more than 160 interviews with college students and their families to explore how middle-class households in the US pay for university. This is a timely and accessible study that breaks through the taboo surrounding family finances, making useful sociological points not only about the cost … Continued

Book Review: Competitive Accountability in Academic Life: The Struggle for Social Impact and Public Legitimacy by Richard Watermeyer

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 19/01/2020 - 8:45pm in

In Competitive Accountability in Academic Life: The Struggle for Social Impact and Public Legitimacy, Richard Watermeyer critically explores the increasing quantification of academic life and the rise of the marketised competitive university. This book particularly succeeds in not only exploring the futility and counterproductiveness of quantified academic performance metrics, but also revealing how complicity among some academics allows … Continued

A degree of studying –  Students who treat education as a commodity perform worse than their intrinsically motivated peers

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 15/01/2020 - 10:30pm in

One of the pivotal transformations in the marketisation of higher education has been the introduction of tuition fees. A degree from a higher education institution can now, to some extent, be purchased like any other commodity.  In this post Louise Bunce presents evidence that students who identify as consumers of their education perform worse academically … Continued

For the humanities to play a stronger role in public policy making, they must move from individual to institutional engagement

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 13/01/2020 - 10:00pm in

What should society expect from the humanities? This question has become pressing in the debate around interdisciplinary research in support of public policy that aims to tackle societal issues. To influence that policy effectively, argues Frans Brom, the humanities must transcend individualism. This would mean not only abandoning “outsider” perspectives focusing solely on criticism of … Continued

What we talk about when we talk about universities, a review essay

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 12/01/2020 - 9:00pm in

The history of universities, including in the UK, is always also the history of the political community; their future, equally, dependent on the future of the community as a whole. In this review essay, Jana Bacevic examines two recent books that offer a good illustration of this point, Who Are Universities For? by Tom Sperlinger, Josie McLellan and Richard Pettigrew and British Universities in the … Continued

Sargon of Gasbag on How the Norf Went Tory

A few days ago Carl ‘Sargon of Akkad’ Benjamin put up a video, in which he presented his idea of why the north of England and the midlands went Tory. It was based on a cartoon from 4chan’s Pol Board, and so presented a very caricatured view of the north. Sargon is the extreme right-winger, who personally did much to destroy UKIP simply by joining it. This ‘classical liberal’ – meaning libertarian – with his highly reactionary views on feminism and racism was too much even for the Kippers. His home branch of Swindon wanted him deselected when the party chose him as the second of their two MEP candidates for south-west England, and the Gloucestershire branch closed down completely. And according to Sargon, the ‘Norf’ went Tory because Blair turned the Labour party from the party of the working class throughout Britain into the party of the liberal metropolitan elite, and turned its attention away from class issues to supporting Islam, refugees, radical feminism and gay rights. This conflict with the social conservative values of working people, and particularly northern working people. As a result, they voted for Johnson, who had the same values they had.

The strip depicts the northern working class as Norf F.C., a local football team. They have their counterparts and rivals in Sowf F.C., a southern football team, and in the Welsh and Scots. The north is presented as a region of fat skinhead football hooligans, poorly educated, and suffering from scurvy and malnutrition, but who love their families, their communities and their country. In the strip’s view, these communities were traditionally Labour. But this changed with the election of Tony Blair, an Oxford educated lawyer, who took over the party. Under his aegis, it no longer was the party of the working class, but instead had a lower middle class membership. These were over-educated officer workers, who turned it towards Communism with the election of Jeremy Corbyn. They supported racism witchhunts, gay rights and flooding White communities with coloured immigrants, and were pro-EU. They despised natural, healthy patriotism. The result was that when Boris appeared, despite being an Etonian toff they recognised themselves in him. He would do something about Brexit and immigration, and would attack the radical left who support Muslim rape gangs and wanted to chop off their sons’ genitals. And who would also put the ‘bum boys’ in their place. It led to the massive defeat of the Labour party, and in particular ‘Communists’ like owen Jones and Ash Sarkar of Novara media.

I’m not going to show the video here, but if you want to see it for yourself, go to YouTube and search for ‘How the Norf Went Tory’, which is his wretched video’s title.

To Sargon, Corbyn is a friend of Hezbollah and Hamas, and to show how threatening the feminists and LGBTQ section of the Labour party he shows various radical feminists with T-shirts saying ‘White People Are Terrorists’ and a trans-activist with a baseball bat and the tattoo ‘Die Cis Scum’, referring to cis-gendered people – those who identify with their biological gender. The over-educated lower middle class people he sneers at are graduates of gender studies, who work in McDonalds, or have submitted to what he describes as ‘office serfdom’.

It’s very much a simplistic view, but there’s much truth in it as well as great deal of distortion. Let’s go through it.

The UKIP View of the North

Firstly, it represents very much the UKIP view of events. The academic study of UKIP, Revolt on the Right,  found that its members were poorly educated, working class people in the north. They had socially Conservative views, hated the European Union, resented immigration, particularly Black and Asian, and felt abandoned by the traditional parties. He is also right in identifying the change from working class representation to middle class representation with Blair’s leadership. Blair didn’t like the working class. He wanted to get the votes of the swing voters in marginal constituencies. As Sargon’s video acknowledges, he supported the neoliberalism that had devastated the northern economy and which made so many northerners hate the policy’s architect, Maggie Thatcher. Within the party, Blair sidelined working class organisations like the trade unions in favour of courting and recruiting business managers.

The Labour party was keen to represent Blacks and other ethnic minorities, women and gays due to its ideological commitment to equality. This policy became particularly important after Thatcher’s victory in 1979, when it appeared to some that the White working class had abandoned the party. I’ve also seen books published in the ’70s lamenting the right-ward movement within the Labour party due to its membership becoming increasingly middle class, so this trend actually predates Blair somewhat. However, it acquired a new importance under Blair because of the emphasis his administration place on BAME rights, feminism and gay rights. In my view, this was partly as an attempt to preserve some claim to radicalism and progressive values while abandoning socialism and the working class.

Sargon Doesn’t Understand Class and Communism

Sargon also doesn’t understand either what Communism is. He seems to believe in the rantings of the contemporary right that it’s all about identity politics and changing the traditional culture from above. That’s one form of Marxist politics coming from the ideas of the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci. But traditional, orthodox Marxism emphasised the importance of the working class and the class structure of society. Marx’s theory of Dialectical Materialism held that it was the economic base of society that defined ideology, not the other way around. Once the working class came into power and socialised the economy, the ideologies supported and created by capitalism would disappear. Gramsci’s ideas about changing ideology and culture became fashionable in left-wing circles because it was believed that the working class was actually in decline as society changed. Demographers noted that increasing numbers of people were becoming lower middle class. Hence the movement on the left towards that sector of society, rather than the traditional working class.

Corbyn More Politically Committed to Working Class

Yes, Corbyn also supported anti-racism, feminism and gay rights, but these had been key values of the left since the 1980s. I remember then how the Labour party and leading figures like Michael Foot and Ken Livingstone were vilified as Communists and Trotskyites, and how the party was caricatured as standing for Black lesbians. There were all those stories circulating in the Scum, for example, about how radical teachers in London schools had decided that ‘Baa Baa Black Sheep’ was racist, and insisted children sing ‘Baa Baa Green Sheep’ instead. Corbyn does come from a privileged background, but his views and the Labour manifesto are far more working class in the sense that they represent a return to traditional socialist economic policies than Blair’s. And certainly far more than Johnson’s and the Tories.

I have to admit that I’m one of the over-educated officer worker types Sargon sneers at. But I never did gender studies, not that I’m sneering at it or those who studied it. My first degree is in history. And I am very sure that most of the legions of graduates now trying to get any kind of paid work have a very wide variety degrees. I also think that many of them also come from the aspirant working class, who went into higher education in order to get on. Also, if you were interested or active in working class politics in the 1980s, you were exposed and took over the anti-racism and anti-sexism campaigns. Ben Elton was notorious as a left-wing comedian in the 1980s, but he defended the working class and ethnic minorities against the Tories.  It was not the case that the White working class was viewed with suspicion as a hotbed of racism, although sections of it, represented by such grotesques as Alf Garnet, certainly were. But it was that section of the working class that the Scum and the Tory party addressed, and so it’s now surprise that they see themselves represented by Boris.

Their belief in Boris is ultimately misplaced, however. Boris will betray them, just like he has betrayed everyone else.

He isn’t going to get Brexit done. He is going to continue with his privatisations, including that of the NHS, and dismantlement of the welfare state. The people in the northern and midlands communities that voted for him are going to find themselves still poor, and probably much poorer, under him.

But the lessons for Labour should be that there should be no return to Blairism. 

David Rosenberg and many other left-wing bloggers have argued from their own personal experience that the way of winning working class voters back to Labour and away from the far-right is through the hard work of knocking on doors and neighbourhood campaigning. This is what Blairism didn’t do. Jones showed in his book Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class that it was Blair that turned away and demonised them, and simply expected them to continue voting Labour as they didn’t have anywhere else to go. And it was the Blairites and Tories, who viewed the White working class as racist and vilified them as such. Although it also has to be said that they also courted them by appealing to their patriotism and their feeling of marginalisation in an increasingly multicultural society. And the fact that Jones took the trouble to attack this refutes Sargon’s attempt to present Jones as a ‘Communist’, who was against their interests.

Yes, you can find the misandrists, and the anti-White racists and extreme gay and trans rights activists in the Labour party. But they’re an unrepresentative minority, who are going to be controversial even in their own small circles. Attempts by the Tories to magnify their influence are deliberately deceptive in order to stop people from believing that the Labour party means to do anything for ordinary working people. Just as Sargon has tried to do in his video.

Winning back the working class from Boris does not mean a return to Blair and attempting to turn the party into the Conservatives 2.0. But it does mean returning to working class activism, representation and continuing to support real policies to benefit the working class, whether Black, White or Brown, Christian, atheist, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish or whatever.

And that has to be a return to genuine socialism.

The future of public intellectualism lies in reforming the digital public sphere

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 09/01/2020 - 10:00pm in

 Public intellectuals as they have traditionally been perceived, as individual scholars speaking truth to power, are a declining feature of public life. Responding to the centrality of digital communication in the public sphere Mark Murphy and Cristina Costa, argue that academia needs to further value and prioritise engagement with the digital public sphere and that beyond simply taking its forms […]

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