As the Adjunctiverse Turns

cheeky, no respect for academia

When education doomsayers aren’t grim enough

Reflecting on and adding to the ongoing discussion in higher ed media, that is also taking place across social media. Main stream media cannot be far behind (cynical yawn). That said, it behooves all levels of academic labor and higher ed stakeholders to pay attention — without falling into troll or click bait black holes.

Bryan Alexander

Recently Inside Higher Ed ran two columns arguing that higher education is in serious trouble.  Their titles proclaimed a very grim analysis: “What Happens If Higher Ed Collapses?” and “The Culling of Higher Ed Begins”.  Both contain useful bits of information and some thoughtful assessments.  Both serve the useful function of shocking people out of complacency. Unfortunately, neither go far enough.  In a sense, they are too optimistic.

Let me be clear.  Doug Lederman and John Warner’s columns are very useful.  I recommend sharing them with colleagues, be they in a library, an academic department, a state legislature, or in the next .edu start-up over in the incubator.  I like what they’ve done.  I just want to add to their analyses, since higher education’s problems are even more extensive and dire than those short pieces had time to address.

To summarize: Lederman notes that “the number of colleges and universities eligible to…

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Addressing workplace bullying, mobbing, and incivility in higher education: The roles of law, cultures, codes, and coaching

The non-tenured — adjunct faculty, lecturers, student workers, research assistants and staff — are especially vulnerable to workplace bullying and mobbing in higher ed.

Minding the Workplace

At the just-concluded International Congress on Law and Mental Health in Prague, I presented a short paper, “Addressing Workplace Bullying, Mobbing, and Incivility in Higher Education: The Roles of Law, Cultures, Codes, and Coaching,” as part of a panel discussion on legal issues in higher education. In assembling this talk, I drew heavily upon sources discussed in past blog entries, as I have long been interested in bullying behaviors in academe. Here’s a slightly edited version of my outline for the talk:

I. Introduction

  1. Short definitions
  • Workplace bullying – Intentional, often repeated, and health harming mistreatment of an employee by one of more other employees, using verbal and non-verbal means.
  • Workplace mobbing – An intentional “ganging up” on an employee by multiple employees, using bullying-type behaviors.
  • Workplace incivility – Behavior that violates conventional norms of workplace conduct.

2. Impacts

  • Reduced employee productivity, attentiveness, and employee morale, increased attrition and absenteeism;
  • Increased…

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Campus Equity Week Prepping Part I: First Finding Common Ground, Then Doing What You Can Do

ground work and considerations for this year’s Campus Equity Week. #CEW17 will be here sooner than you expect.

The Adjunct Crisis

Good Adjuncts,

We are a motley lot, teaching under a wide variety of conditions, and as a consequence, have various issues as regards to the adjunct situation.  In preparing for Campus Equity Week, we need to recognize, in spite of our shared grievances, this motley nature, and embrace it.

I recall last year, while meeting with members of the American Federation of Teachers Adjunct Contingent Caucus at the AFT National Convention, that once we broke down into smaller groups, we found the high priority issues not only varied from state to state, but from system to system–say teaching at a community college versus teaching at a public university versus teaching at a private institution.  Some teachers were represented by unions with wall-to-wall units (Adjuncts and Full-timers), while others were adjunct only, and some were struggling to get administration to even negotiate with them. . .

In spite of all this…

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Prague: A week of learning about law and mental health

David Yamada will present “a short paper on workplace bullying, mobbing, and incivility in academe as part of a panel discussion on higher education.” That’s a panel I definitely want to learn more about — and hope all the papers will be available online or for download.

Minding the Workplace

Postcard views everywhere in Prague. Here, Old Town Square.

I’m spending a week in Prague, Czech Republic, for the 35th International Congress on Law and Mental Health, sponsored and organized by the International Academy of Law and Mental Health (IALMH). Among other things, today I facilitated a session to launch the formation of the new International Society for Therapeutic Jurisprudence (more on that in my next post), and tomorrow I’m presenting a short paper on workplace bullying, mobbing, and incivility in academe as part of a panel discussion on higher education.

The IALMH’s biennial Congress is a global event, with presenters and attendees from around the world participating in dozens of panel discussions running each day for a full week. Law professors, lawyers, and judges join psychologists, psychiatrists, and those from other professional and academic disciplines to discuss important issues of law and mental health. This has become an…

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A growing partisan split over American higher education

disagree with the divide’s numbers or reasoning as we might, we cannot, must not ignore it.

Bryan Alexander

American attitudes towards higher education are increasingly driven by party politics.  According to new Pew research, Democrats are more likely to like colleges and universities, while Republicans are even more critical of them than they used to be.

A majority of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (58%) now say that colleges and universities have a negative effect on the country, up from 45% last year. By contrast, most Democrats and Democratic leaners (72%) say colleges and universities have a positive effect, which is little changed from recent years.

The major shift is really one that occurred within a single party. “Republicans’ attitudes about the effect of colleges and universities have changed dramatically over a relatively short period of time.”  The GOP went from a 54% positive/37% negative view in September 2015 to, now,  “a majority (58%) of Republicans say colleges and universities are having a negative effect on the…

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On “Part-Time Faculty Leadership Institutes”

always a treat to read a new post by Geoff on Adjunct Crisis ~ this one especially. TY for the nod.

The Adjunct Crisis

Good Adjuncts,

I am writing this essay at the mild urging of long-time adjunct activist, Vanessa Vaille.

As time drifts into the middle of summer, for those adjuncts who have neither scored a class or been financially compelled to do so, the US Higher Ed system as well entered into that time period that the vast majority of adjuncts know of as the “unemployment zone.”  For many of us, it is that time when you usually watch your dollars carefully, and if you’re lucky, survive on unemployment checks, and if you’re not, hope that you can get by without selling plasma or the what not, which I had to do as a graduate teaching assistant at SDSU one summer (and guess what?  I was working 40 hours a week as a custodian but my paycheck was deferred until mid-August).

As both an adjunct and union activist, I can’t say my…

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Wage Love to End Debt’s Stranglehold

so relevant to adjunct/contingent faculty, graduate student workers and their students crushed by student loan debt

The Revolution Where You Live

Instead of using debt to punish communities of color and the poor, we should invest in everyone and defend our civic legacies for future generations.

Debt is an age-old means of shaming and controlling poor people. The practice is so commonplace, we hardly notice it.

For many, going into debt is the only way to get an education, buy a home, or survive a medical emergency. Shaking off that debt can be impossible for those living on low-wage and insecure jobs, and those targeted by predatory lending. Still, many accept the story that debt is their fault.

Citizens of cities and even countries are shamed for their debt, and blame is used by those instituting emergency management to justify loss of self-rule, privatization of public services, and extraction of community wealth.

At this year’s Allied Media Conference in Detroit, Michigan, residents of the city and those of Puerto Rico gathered…

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An experiment in collective futuring, and you are invited

Don’t miss this Thursday’s #FTTE Forum, an “experiment in collective intelligence.” focusing on education, technology–and how they intersect … how they could…

Bryan Alexander

For the past year and a half the Future Trends Forum has been a kind of ongoing, public experiment.  It’s given us a chance to explore the possibility of using synchronous, videoconference-based discussion to probe the future of education and technology.

Forum screenshot: Taskeen and a crowdAnd by “us” I mean over 1,500 participants, plus more than 60 brilliant guests.  This is definitely a collective or collaborative initiative.*

I’m delighted with what we’ve achieved so far on so many levels, from learning multiple seminars’ worth of information to making new friends to seeing some people leverage their participation into career benefits.

Let’s take things a little further.  I’d like to try another experiment, next week, and want to invite you to partake.

Instead of having a guest, or me presenting on trends, let’s reflect – as a group – on the future of education and technology.

I propose that we structure that hour of reflection…

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Which science fiction novel should our online book club read next?

Summertime. I’m more than ready to read science fiction. Are you?

Bryan Alexander

Now that we’ve finished with Tressie Cottom’s Lower Ed (here are all of my notes and your comments), we can consider our next reading.  And it’s time our book club returned to near future science fiction.  Yes, it’s time to vote.

A little background: we’ve been reading science fiction to help imagine the next few decades, both for the world as a whole and for education’s future.  Sf traditionally has helped that kind of imagination.  Plus it’s fiction, a fun ride and change of pace from nonfiction.  (Scroll to the bottom of this post for links to the books we’ve read so far)

Over the past few years I’ve built up a big list of candidates, helped enormously by fellow readers and commentators.  There’s literary and very genre-ish science fiction, award winners and titles flying under the radar.  Authors are diverse by gender and race, including literary titans…

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Updated American demographics: becoming an older, more diverse nation

What do these trends suggest about the future of academic and especially adjunct labor? Of grad school and the college teaching labor pool?

Bryan Alexander

Demographics are a key tool in the futurist’s toolbox.  They represents trends that tend to be more durable than most others.  For education, demographic trends have a powerful influence, shaping the populations we serve in many ways.

For instance, consider some new research.  The American people continue to get older and more racially diverse, according to the latest US Census data.  This isn’t shocking news, especially for those of us tracking demographics, but it remains useful – more so, as these trends deepen.

About age and aging: “[r]esidents age 65 and over grew from 35.0 million in 2000, to 49.2 million in 2016, accounting for 12.4 percent and 15.2 percent of the total population, respectively.”

Two-thirds (66.7 percent) of the nation’s counties experienced an increase in median age last year…

Between 2000 and 2016, 95.2 percent of all counties experienced increases in median age…

This is happening for a…

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