Category Archives: Recent Reading

Really doomed, really

“… a newly appointed dean can simply decide that, since he is obviously a very important person, it is only natural that he should have five or six additional administrative staff working under him–and only then begin trying to figure out what said staff are actually going to do. Administrators at private universities are answerable only to their board of trustees. Trustees are usually extremely rich. If they are not themselves creatures of the corporate world, they are at the very least used to moving in environments shaped by its mores and sensibilities–and as a result, they tend to view such a dean’s behavior as entirely normal and unobjectionable.” (pp.162-3)

“Back in the 1950s or 1960s, one could still say that universities were one of the few European institutions that had survived more or less in tact from the Middle Ages. Crucially, they were still run on the old medieval principal that only those involved in a certain form of production–weather this be the production of stonework or leather gloves or mathematical equations–had the right to organize their own affairs; indeed that they were also the only people qualified to do so. Universities were basically craft guilds run for an by scholars, and their most important business was considered to be producing scholarship, their second-most, training new generation so scholars.

“But since the eighties … university administrators have effectively stated a coup. They wrested control of the university from the faculty and oriented the institution itself toward entirely different purposes. It is now commonplace for major universities to put our ‘strategic vision documents’ that barely mention scholarship or teaching but go on at length about ‘the student experience,’… collaboration with business or government, and so forth.” (p. 163)

“Our actions are caught up in caring in relations of caring. But most caring relations require we leave the world more or less as we found it. In the same way that teenage idealist regularly abandon their dreams of creating a better world and come to accept the compromises of adult life at precisely the moment they marry and have children, care for others, especially over the long term, requires maintaining a world that’s relatively predictable as the grounds on which caring can take place. One cannot save to ensure a college education for one’s children unless one is sure in twenty years there will still be colleges–or for that matter, money. And that, in turn, means that love for others–people, animals, landscapes– regularly requires the maintenance of institutional structures one might otherwise despise.” (p. 239)
“Bullshit Jobs” by David Graeber

We are so doomed, we’re dooomed.