Bringing It #77: A New Year & New Opportunities
We hope this letter finds you doing well and enjoying the start of 2022. In this edition of Bringing It we send a reminder of an opportunity to join the BT2P team, we share what we’ve been reading this winter, and we invite you to share your news with this community in the coming year.
An Opportunity to Help Lead an Ambitious New Initiative for BT2P
We are in the final days of our search for a Senior Project Manager for the Paradigm Project. This full-time position will have a wide-ranging portfolio, including public outreach, the creation and support of design teams and advocacy networks, and engagement with educational decision-makers. Applications will be reviewed starting January 7th, 2022.
What We Are Reading: David on The Slow Professor
Much of BT2P’s work is driven by the urgency of change in higher education. Alongside many others, we’ve sought to answer the current emergency—and the longer crises it has surfaced—with action. So I have been looking out for readings and resources that advance models of big change. I was intrigued to explore the Big ReThink initiative undertaken by NASH (the National Association of System Heads), and I learned much from Stephen Ehrmann’s new Pursuing Quality, Access, and Affordability: A Field Guide to Improving Higher Education.
But my favorite recent reading was at odds with these discussions of associations, improvement metrics, and crisis-driven change. The Slow Professor: Challenging the Culture of Speed in the Academy, co-authored by Maggie Berg and Barbara K. Seeber (two English professors at Canadian universities), is a short book that invites long reflection. At once a manifesto, critique, memoir, teaching guide, and self-help manual, it invites educators to resist the regime of productivity and acceleration that has come to dominate academic institutions. Drawing on the politics and values of the Slow Food and related movements, Berg and Seeber remind us that everything good in higher education — teaching, learning, thinking, research, writing — needs access to unmanaged time, time that is open, unforeseen, un-overseen. The regime of productivity, they argue, intensifies faculty stress and exhaustion, and worsens teaching and scholarship. Indeed one of The Slow Professor’s many virtues is its insistence that the well-being of students — a core commitment of BT2P — depends on the well-being of teachers. (The book was published in 2016, well before the pandemic.) Along the way, it offers specific suggestions for making the classroom a space of “slow” reflection and community-building, and it makes a powerful call for the importance of faculty conviviality and mutual support.
I loved this book, including the voice of collaborative friendship that suffuses it. But I do have one beef with it. The Slow Professorascribes all responsibility for the corrosive “culture of speed in the academy” to administrative bureaucracies and the corporatization of the academy. To my eye, faculty ourselves share the blame. Or, to put it more clearly, I’d argue that the structures of disciplinary professionalism, with its enforcement of siloed expertise and status hierarchies, have worked hand in hand with the structures of corporate governance to produce the hurried, competitive, unsupportive work-world Berg and Seeber rightly call out. Their terrific book seems to me a call not simply for faculty resistance to neoliberal metrics, but for the co-creation of new roles and relationships among faculty, staff educators, and students. In that sense, the Slow movement might offer a guide to urgent change.
An Open Invitation
We want to thank you for your contributions to the BT2P community (and to higher education more generally) over the past year. In the face of the current crises higher ed is facing –– and in response to it –– we know that there are many important initiatives and opportunities for change. Please let us know if you have announcements, events, or opportunities to share. We want to continue to highlight and connect the work of this community in the new year. News may be sent to Kelly, our Communications and Public Outreach Coordinator, at [email protected]
David, Gianna, Kelly, & Todd