(Nelson 2012) Fighting for the humanities


Nelson, Cary. Fighting for the humanities. Academe. 2012 Jan–Feb; 98(1):16–21. Available from: http://www.aaup.org/AAUP/pubsres/academe/2012/JF/Feat/nels.htm.

Nelson issues a wake-up call about recent intensification of the corporate and government assault on academic freedom, especially in the humanities. The attack is bipartisan—the current Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, is fully on board with the attackers—and mainly takes the forms of Taylorism, reduction of education to job training, defunding of humanities disciplines, and replacement of tenured faculty by part-time faculty who do not have the same security against job loss in retaliation for dissent. Although Nelson’s principal focus is on the humanities, he emphasizes that scientists are also affected:

The traditional pressure on scientists to obtain grants became something quite different once funding began to shift from peer-reviewed government grants to corporate contracts. The pressure to produce marketable products suddenly trumped a scientist’s right to pursue the research he or she would choose to do. … It is only a matter of time before increasing numbers of scientists realize they are really working for a corporation, not a university, whatever the institutional designation on their salary check may be.

Nelson closes with a call to “create a new constituency for academic freedom” by making the public aware of the importance of academic freedom and the dangers it is facing.

 

 

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