Tuesday, December 14, 2010

(Counter) Conference Announcement


A Counter-Conference: Strategies for Defending Higher Education

Conventions and conferences abound in academia. You could even say they are a convention of the profession. It's time to be unconventional, break with convention, call unconventional counter-conferences. When better to schedule one than during the annual MLA Convention? 

The announcement below comes courtesy of organizer Bob Samuels, UC-AFT President, blogging higher ed and UC at Changing Universities

Please circulate this announcement to any of your faculty groups or departmental lists.

A Counter-Conference: Strategies for Defending Higher Education

This counter-conference will take place during the annual MLA Convention in Los Angeles, January 8th, 2011 from 1-5 at Merrifield Hall, Loyola Law School (919 Albany St, 4 blocks north of the Marriott). While thousands of people will be meeting at the traditional convention, we will hold a one-day event centered on discussing actual strategies for making higher education more just.  Speakers will be presenting short papers on topics like the death of tenure, the corporatization of the university, the possibilities of unionization, direct social action, the use and abuse of graduate students, organizing contingent faculty, and taking back shared governance. 


1:00-1:45 Remaking the University of California, 
(after Chris Newfield's similarly named blog, Remaking the University)Catharine Liu, UC Irvine; Chris Newfield (author of Unmaking the Public University), Joshua Clover, UC Davis

1:45-2:30 - Defending the Humanities and Shared Governance: Cary Nelson, President 
AAUP; Jeffrey Williams, Carnegie Mellon; Michelle Masse, LSU

2:30-3:15Organizing Labor and the Academic Class WarMarc Bousquet, Santa Clara University; Maria Maisto, New Faculty Majority; Joe Berry, Chicago COCAL, School of Labor and Employment Relations at UI Urbana-Champaign

3:15-4:00 - 
Graduate Students and Precarious Labor: 
Annie McClanahan, Harvard (UAW bargaining unit); 
Jasper Bernes, GSOC, UC Berkeley; 
Stephanie Seawell, UIGEO, Champaign-Urbana; 
UI Champaign-Urbana

4:00-4:30 - Quality, Access, and AffordabilityMurray Sperber, Professor Emiritus, IU Bloomington; Bob Samuels, UCLAPresident UC-AFT

4:30-4:55Open Discussion on Strategies for Changing Higher Education
RSVP by emailing bobsamuels_us@yahoo.com or at the Counter-Conference Facebook Event page if you plan to come. $10 donation suggested but not required. You do not have to be a member of MLA to attend. 

Bob Samuels, President, UC-AFT


  1. Not many adjuncts / NTT on that list. For the Counter Conference to be representative, we should be in the majority. Wasn't that supposed to be the point of a counter-conference?

  2. I agree that we need more adjunct representation. But I also commend the effort. If this were to become a regular action at major academic conferences, we might be able to gain traction. The first question is, of course, how many adjuncts can afford plane fare and hotel costs? The second question is, how many adjuncts at the MLA conference would risk coming to the counter-conference when what they really want is to leave adjuncting and find a full-time position? Fear is always a factor. It might be necessary to consider things like skype-attendance in the future, or real-time video streaming?

  3. I forwarded Trota Campos's comment to Bob, hoping he would respond here. Call me contrarian, but IMO if this is to become a major action at academic conferences, it should be not just more counter but also more comprehensive. Not just more adjuncts either: visitors from another galaxy could carry away the impression that activists are mostly English majors, primarily UC or East Coast.


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