As the Adjunctiverse Turns

cheeky, no respect for academia

Glimpses of a world of stacks

Dear #adjunct tribe of the Ivory Silo™, don’t double down on information blinders by letting a single information stack become yet another walled garden. The end effect is not Paradise but Rappaccini’s Daughter.

Bryan Alexander

Incidents from the past 24 hours, as evidence for a digital future strongly shaped by powerful stacks:

A friend shares a BBC story about a new UNESCO report concerning learning.  The document sounds fascinating and important.  But there is no link to the report itself.  (This was in a Facebook group) . Recall that the BBC has long been focused on digital experiments, trying to maximize the web for itself.  This wasn’t a slip.

Yesterday afternoon three short videos appeared as promotions for the new Blade Runner movie, or at last appeared in my world. YouTube hosted the videos.  Here’s one:

I shared them on Facebook.  This should have elicited some attention.  After all, Blade Runner is one of the most famous films of all time, and the new movie has won a lot of buzz.  Hundreds of people follow me on Facebook.  Sixteen hours after sharing…

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Another university to close

Bryan Alexander

A small university in Nebraska will close, in yet another story about the American higher education crisis.

Grace University describes itself as “a premier Private Christian University in Omaha, Nebraska.”  The institutional website carries the official announcement:

Grace University will cease all academic operations at the end of the 2017-2018 academic year… We are confident that the decision was necessary at this time to ensure, to the extent possible, the successful completion of the current year and to provide sufficient time for the necessary transition planning for all those affected by the closure.

The human cost is immediate.  There are the students whose studies and careers are now skewed.  As for faculty and administration,

About 20 full-time faculty members, nearly 60 adjuncts and almost 40 staff members work for the university. No severance plan is in place at this time. Any severance will depend on how much cash…

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Workplace bullying and mobbing: Abuse vs. conflict

Minding the Workplace

image courtesy of clipartfest.com

As I wrote in my previous post, Dr. Maureen Duffy and I are doing a final review of our forthcoming two-volume book set, Workplace Bullying and Mobbing in the United States (ABC-CLIO, 2018), scheduled for publication in December. The process of re-reading 25 chapters featuring the work of over two dozen contributors highlights recurring themes for me. Among others, I keep coming back to this question: In terms of negative workplace interactions, what factors distinguish “conflict” from “abuse”? 

You’ll find differences of opinion on this question among our learned contributors. For me, the distinction between workplace conflict and workplace abuse often boils down to two major factors, namely, (1) the intentions of the parties, and (2) the power relationships between the parties.

If a party’s main intention is to cause harm or distress to another (thus meeting a common legal definition of malice), then the situation…

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The Stupid Slut (Finally) Walks Away

The Homeless Adjunct

A few days ago, an article in The Guardian by Alastair Gee, hit the internet. In it, the stories of adjunct faculty in desperate poverty are told, once again. Year after year after year, the situation in American academia – and now in academia around the world – continues to worsen. So, I thought it was time to check in, since I was quoted in this article, to update my own situation.

It has been over five years since I wrote of a devastating experience – one of many devastating experiences – I have had as an adjunct in American Academia. The blog was called “Being a Stupid Slut”, and it discussed, through a story about my own humiliation, the ways in which we who serve as adjunct faculty in American academia are treated with no respect, how we feel devastated and demeaned, and how important it is that…

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The institutions and organizations I’ve been consulting with

Bryan Alexander

In 2013 I launched a business, Bryan Alexander Consulting (BAC).  Since then I have worked with nearly one hundred organizations, helping them with a variety of various services.

In 2013 I set up a basic web presence for BAC.  I wanted the futures consulting work to be as public and transparent as possible, and that site helped.  The site included a clients list, but for years I didn’t made it public. Honestly, I’ve been too busy with the business – a fine problem to have! – and have also been taking a great deal of care with the page’s details, making sure everything was accurate, and that I had reliable contact information for each one. Finally, I’m sharing that list of clients.

Bryan Alexander Consulting clients Click to get to the full list.

I’m doing so for transparency’s sake.  You can see the types of colleges, libraries, governments, non-profits, and…

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Stony Brook launches a queen sacrifice by cutting humanities and humanists

Bryan Alexander

Stony Brook University seal, via WikipediaStony Brook University, a leading American university and member of New York’s SUNY systemis cutting back on the humanities.  It’s another example of what I’ve been calling a queen sacrifice, as an administration reduces academic programs and professors.

One component of Stony Brook’s strategy shuts down or fuses several humanities departments:

Specifically, the departments of European languages, literatures and cultures; Hispanic languages and literature; and cultural studies and comparative literature will be combined into a single department of comparative world literature. The move involves suspending a number of undergraduate majors and graduate degree programs within those departments. The undergraduate major in theater arts also is suspended.

Some of these closures and consolidations wereannouncedthissummer.

This move then leads to getting rid of faculty, including both adjuncts and tenure-track professors:

In addition to planned reductions in non-tenure-track faculty lines, three assistant professors of cultural studies…

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This week on the Future Trends Forum: an experiment about mobile education

Bryan Alexander

This Wednesday we’re going to try a new experiment with the Future Trends Forum videoconference.

But first, a quick update.  I’ve been leading the Forum since February 11th, 2016.  As of this morning 1,799 people have participated in sessions, with nearly 100 guests.  Seventy-six (76) recordings are available on YouTube.

Colutta and I Photo by Paul Signorelli at the 2016 NMC conference.,

Most sessions take the form of free-wheeling discussions between a guest, myself, and between 40 to 180 Forum participants.  Some sessions are experiments in form, as when we collaboratively responded to Charlottesville, or when we jointly explored the full range of higher education’s future:

In two days I’d like to try another experiment in mass videoconference futuring.  This time we’ll meet to explore a specific question narrowly focused on one aspect of the future of higher education.  There won’t be a single leading guest; instead, we’ll put…

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Three stories about where education is going

Bryan Alexander

Three different education stories have stuck in my mind this weekend.  They have nothing to do with each other directly – two are very different publications, and one is from me – yet combined they point to some ways higher education is developing.   Themes include class, finance, gender, and race.

1. Two young women strive to complete undergraduate degrees, in the face of poverty, homelessness, and exhaustion, in this California Sunday account.  It’s a deep dive into two lives, illustrating with examples a major segment of American higher education.  Note the role of the California State University system in teaching and supporting poor learners.

It’s classic Sara Goldrick-Rab (here’s our Forum discussion with her) material, too:

At Cal State Long Beach, Kersheral’s tuition and fees ran close to $6,500 a year, but they were covered. In fact, more than half of California college students don’t need…

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Shelley Lane’s broad-ranging look at incivility

Minding the Workplace

I’m delighted that Dr. Shelley Lane’s (U. Texas-Dallas) Understanding Everyday Incivility: Why Are They So Rude? (Rowan & Littlefield, 2017) has now been published. I was honored to write the Foreword, and I’d like to draw on it for this post.

Everyday Incivility is an informed, wide-ranging, and provocative examination of a topic that carries everyday significance. As Dr. Lane points out in the first chapter, this is not a volume about manners and etiquette. Rather, here we find civility and incivility observed and interpreted through the lens of a communications scholar and teacher who happens to be a thoughtful human being. The volume examines civility and incivility in multiple settings, including workplace tensions (naturally!), family disputes, road rage, online behavior, relationship issues, school dynamics, politics, community relations, and more — all framed by a communications perspective.

The book is neither a breezy self-help manual nor a heavy academic tome…

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Station identification: Bryan Alexander

Queen sacrifice and peak higher ed too in case that slipped your mind. An indispensable source for staying on top of changes heading our way.

Bryan Alexander

Time for a little station identification.

My name is Bryan Alexander, and I’m a futurist specializing in education.

To that end I write books and articles, publish a monthly trends analysis report, conduct a weekly open videoconference discussion, host an online book club, and write this very blog.  People support me on Patreon.

I also consult with colleges, universities, libraries, nonprofits, associations, and governments worldwide.

Bryan Alexander dot org(inspired by well-known monster Warren Ellis; photo by the European Space Agency)

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