Next meeting of the 17 Group: Wednesday the 5th of October at 7pm in unit 6 at 20 Drury St, West End. The speaker will be Richard Hil, currently writing a book on Australian higher education. His topic: “The zombification of Australian universities”. Here is a short summary followed by some biographical notes:
The zombification of Australian universities
Like many organizations in other sectors – schools, hospitals, community centres, clothing stores, biscuit factories, banks and breweries –
universities have over recent years experienced major changes to their work practices. Australian academics are now subject to work regimes that their predecessors would scarcely recognize, even thirty years ago. Economic rationalism, commercialization, corporate governance, productivism and other outgrowths of neo-liberal ideology have ushered in an entirely new way of thinking about what constitutes the university. The proposition that universities are for the collective good has in effect been usurped by the impulse to survive in an increasingly cut-throat globalised marketplace. Such developments have led to much public chatter concerning the perceived death of the public university, the emergence of rote and instrumental education and the over-regulation of academics. Complaint is rife among academics who find themselves increasingly tethered to the commercial imperatives of the neo-liberal, university. Some commentators have talked of the zombfication of the university with its tendency to reduce so-called higher education to a process of rigidified learning and vocational training suited to the interests of the current economic order rather than the collective good. Every aspect of inquiry – even critical reflection – has become commodified artifacts more suited to career portfolios than active citizenship in a vibrant democratic society.
How can academics resist zombification? What prospects are there of alternative, more democratic, socially relevant and participatory systems of higher education?
Dr Richard Hil is co-founder of the Free University of Bellingen and honorary associate at the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Sydney. Richard has written extensively in the areas of criminology, peace and conflict studies, and child and family welfare. His more recent books are International Criminology (with Rob Watts and Judith Bessant), Erasing Iraq (with Mike Otterman and Paul Wilson) and Surviving Care (with Dr Elisabeth Branigan). Erasing Iraq has recently been translated into Arabic. Richard has written extensively on higher education in The Australian, Campus Review and Australian Universities Review and is currently completing a book titled: Whackademia: Inside the strange world of Australian higher education.
But Leon? Well might you ask.
“Trotsky loved mathematics, whose abstract world fascinated him with its mystery, its logic and its inexhaustible possibilities. He dreamed of studying it at Novorossiisk University, and he might have become a scientist, but the only universities he was to attend were those of the Russian prison system. His revolutionary career began when he left high school aged seventeen”. (Trotsky: Eternal Revolutionary by Dmitri Volkogonov If he comes he’ll be bringing a few friends from the university of hard lines:
We’re expecting a big crowd already for this one, but we’ve got extra chairs ready in the garage.