No University Is an Island: Saving Academic Freedomby Cary Nelson
The modern university is sustained by academic freedom; it guarantees higher education’s independence, its quality, and its success in educating students. The need to uphold those values would seem obvious. Yet the university is presently under siege from all corners; workers are being exploited with paltry salaries for full-time work, politics and profit… See more details below
The modern university is sustained by academic freedom; it guarantees higher education’s independence, its quality, and its success in educating students. The need to uphold those values would seem obvious. Yet the university is presently under siege from all corners; workers are being exploited with paltry salaries for full-time work, politics and profit rather than intellectual freedom govern decision-making, and professors are being monitored for the topics they teach.
No University Is an Island offers a comprehensive account of the social, political, and cultural forces undermining academic freedom. At once witty and devastating, it confronts these threats with exceptional frankness, then offers a prescription for higher education’s renewal. In an insider’s account of how the primary organization for faculty members nationwide has fought the culture wars, Cary Nelson, the current President of the American Association of University Professors, unveils struggles over governance and unionization and the increasing corporatization of higher education. Peppered throughout with previously unreported, and sometimes incendiary, higher education anecdotes, Nelson is at his flame-throwing best. will be the benchmark against which we measure the current definitive struggle for academic freedom.
The book calls on higher education’s advocates of both the Left and the Right to temper conviction with tolerance and focus on higher education’s real injustices. Nelson demands we stop denying teachers, student workers, and other employees a living wage and basic rights. He urges unions to take up the larger cause of justice. And he challenges his own and other academic organizations to embrace greater democracy. With broad and crucial implications for the future, No University Is an Island will be the benchmark against which we measure the current definitive struggle for academic freedom.
-Anthony D. Romero,Executive Director, American Civil Liberties Union
“Nelson recalls (accurately) that when he and I discussed the role of politics in the classroom at a public forum and he reported proudly on his practice of inserting the names Bush and Cheney into a poem about a past military disaster, I declared that ‘If I were Cary’s dean, I would fire him immediately.’ But upon reflection, and after having read this impassioned and worthwhile book, I am moved to reconsider.”
-Stanley Fish,The New York Times’ “Opinionator” blog
“Cary Nelson calls on professors and students to work together to embrace shared governance between universities and unions to protect salaries, rights and a renewed commitment to academic freedom.”
-Susan Salter Reynolds,The Los Angeles Times
“This valuable and lively polemic will be of particular interest to readers already familiar with campus issues and the political struggle over faculty rights and responsibilities.”
“Nelson’s feisty intellectual manifesto is kept rooted—and readable—by personal recollections, felicitous turns of phrase, and scrupulous fairness.”
“But the tenure system, which is already being eroded by the growth of contingent labor, is not the only thing that is under assault in the top-down, corporatized academy. As Cary Nelson explains in No University Is an Island (2010), shared governancethe principle that universities should be controlled by their faculties, which protects academic values against the encroachments of the spreadsheet brigadeis also threatened by the changing structure of academic work.”-William Deresiewicz,The Nation
“If you care about the future of the academy and the role of the AAUP in ensuring that the future will be better for students, faculty, and the larger society, you should read this book. It lays out, in persuasive and often poetic language, the challenges we face and creative solutions for meeting them. Cary’s impassioned advocacy of the AAUP and its noble history is made still more convincing by his honesty in reporting where we have occasionally faltered and where we must do better.”
-Jane Buck,AAUP President 2000 to 2006
Meet the Author
Cary Nelson is Jublilee Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is also the national president of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). Among his twenty-five books are Manifesto of a Tenured Radical (also published by NYU) and the landmark coedited collection Cultural Studies.
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