Academic Keywords: A Devil's Dictionary for Higher Education by Cary Nelson

By Cary Nelson

Be aware of what academic freedom is? Or what it truly is come to intend? what is affirmative approximately affirmative motion nowadays? imagine you are up at the challenge of sexual harassment on campus? Or know the way a lot the college is dependent upon part-time faculty?

Academic Keywords is a witty, expert, and occasionally cruel evaluation of cutting-edge campus, an more and more corporatized establishment which may have bitten off greater than its management is able to bite. Cary Nelson and Steve Watt use the layout of a dictionary to give tales and reflections on probably the most urgent matters affecting better schooling in the United States. From the haphazard remedy of graduate scholars to the use and abuse of school (as good as abuses commited via faculty), Nelson and Watt current a compelling and, every now and then, enraging record at the kingdom of the campus

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A sociology department evenly split between quantitative and qualitative methods has little grounds for compromise and no basis for a unified vision of the field. So if people get along they do so in part by ignoring one another. What’s left is entrepreneurial disciplinarity—every man and woman seeking personal achievement, advantage, recognition, and reward. If a crisis comes, there’s no real common bond—except the abstract commitment to excellence—to hold people together. Since intellectually divided disciplines encompass partly incompatible intellectual paradigms, there may even be no local departmental history of negotiation over a coherent curriculum.

While one might rather abandon the word, its widespread use necessitates a struggle over its meaning. We should hold ourselves accountable to those principles, like academic freedom, that we value. As members of a community, we should be accountable to one another, more accountable, to be sure, than we are now. And we should broadcast widely the nature and meaning of our central responsibilities. Make no mistake about it: invocations of accountability herald a battle over the future of higher education.

And so it has gone for a hundred years. From then until now there have been numerous recommendations that faculty should confine public statements to their area of disciplinary authority, but few have suggested dismissal should follow for those who venture out of their fields. In the meantime, once colleges and universities began to sign on to the AAUP’s 1940 statement on academic freedom and tenure, academic freedom could acquire some legal force and precedent as well. In recent decades academic freedom has also, as Haskell points out, become entangled with First Amendment guarantees of free speech.

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