This is a follow up to last week’s “Dear AAA: Sink or Swim?” post from last week, which generated a good number of comments here and elsewhere (over at Zero Anthropology and also on the Environmental Anthropology listserv, which is a great forum, but I wish more folks would post comments here as well). There were a lot of comments, ideas, thoughts, and personal stories posted here, at Zero, and on e-anth. But there is one question that came up several times and I want to highlight it here to see what you all think:
If we know there are serious problems in academia, and that those problems are clearly affecting anthropology, then what can be done? This question came up at the end of the SM post, and it came up quite a lot more on the e-anth listserv. Here are some of the ideas that were being thrown around (in no particular order):
1. Unionization or some form of collective action for adjuncts. One person proposed “A day without adjuncts.” Organize. Take a stand.
2. Rethink the idea that anthropology PhDs must lead to a career in academia. Scour the world for other jobs and opportunities. Do not pigeonhole new grads into narrow options. Diversify. Open things up. Don’t depend so much on the academy.
3. Address the massive problem of student debt.
4. Share and expose the stories of adjuncts who are trying to make their way through this system. Publicize and humanize the problem. Make the problem well known, and encourage more people to speak up.
5. Build support and solidarity between tenured and non-tenured faculty to deal with the problems we face.
6. Build support across disciplines, since this is not just a problem in anthropology.
7. Create new models for higher education: Cooperative or alternative universities. A number of people have been talking about this idea.
So what can be done? How can we address the problems we face? Do we need more analysis and critique? Do we need to organize? Do we need to completely rethink higher education? Or do we do nothing? Is it simply too late or impossible to make changes? Is our university system doomed, or is there something we can do to change course? Please share your thoughts. Other ideas? Let’s hear them.