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.
“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's book No University Is an Island brings together many of the different issues currently facing universities. While his main theme is academic freedom, he is able to locate this central educational value at the intersection of several interlocking forces: privatization, casualization, corporatization, and globalization...The greatest strength of Nelson's book is that it constantly returns to the idea that only the faculty working collectively can defend the university as a public good. By chiding some of his colleagues for focusing too much on their own careers, he makes a strong plea for all faculty members to take back their institutions, and by documenting cases of effective faculty resistance, Nelson provides a glimmer of hope in these dark times.”
-The Huffington Post
“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.”
“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
“Nelson’s feisty intellectual manifesto is kept rooted—and readable—by personal recollections, felicitous turns of phrase, and scrupulous fairness.”
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