Looking at the impact of one historic student union strike, this book offers many lessons about the future of workplaces in higher education
The University Against Itself
The NYU Strike and the Future of the Academic Workplace
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edited by Monika Krause, Mary Nolan, Michael Palm and Andrew Ross
During the last two decades, many U.S. universities have restructured themselves to operate more like corporations. Nowhere has this process been more dramatic than at New York University, often touted as an exemplar of the "corporate university." Over the same period, an academic labor movement has arisen in response to this restructuring. Using the unprecedented 2005 strike by the graduate student union at NYU as a springboard, The University Against Itself provides a brief history of labor organizing on American campuses, analyzes the state of academic labor today, and speculates about how the university workplace may evolve for employees.
All of the contributors were either participants in the NYU strike-graduate students, faculty, and organizers-or are nationally-recognized writers on academic labor. They are deeply troubled by the ramifications of corporatizing universities. Here they spell out their concerns, offering lessons from one historic strike as well as cautions about the future of all universities.
Contributors include: Stanley Aronowitz, Barbara Bowen, Miabi Chatterji, Maggie Clinton, Andrew Cornell, Ashley Dawson, Stephen Duncombe, Steve Fletcher, Greg Grandin, Adam Green, Kitty Krupat, Gordon Lafer, Natasha Lightfoot, Micki McGee, Sarah Nash, Cary Nelson, Matthew Osypowski, Ed Ott, Ellen Schrecker, Naomi Schiller, Sherene Seikaly, Susan Valentine, and the editors.
"The NYU strike was no mere labor dispute. It made history in the strong and truly exceptional sense; it was the decisive strike of the first graduate employee union at a private university in the U.S. Each detail of the strike and how it was dealt with resounds around the country and (literally) around the world. The University Against Itself is very insightful, very readable, and a book that must be read."
"The University Against Itself is an indispensable collection. Not just a strike dossier (though it is that too), this book offers a compelling, comprehensive look at the new corporate university and its discontents. Anyone who wants to promote a more humane agenda for American labor and education should start by reading this book"
"The University Against Itself is strongest when it provides a behind-the-scenes look at what went down during the strike. In that sense, the book reads like a rebuttal to the flawed and often pro-administration mainstream news reporting on the action."
"It studies NYU specifically and universities in general, offering a solid reassessment of corporate growth in higher education, while exploring how to fight for better universities through collective action. Blessedly free of jargon and unforgiving in its critique, this book speaks powerfully to any faculty member interested in retaining academic freedom, shared governance, dignity on the job, or just the job itself[...] thought-provoking."
"Although these are not the first labor or social movement examinations to generate predictive analyses, existing literatures remain relatively sparse, and therefore, these pieces constitute a welcome addition to a growing body of work, particularly in terms of expanding research in the areas of movement repertoire and tactical innovation. In sum, I highly recommend this thoughtfully organized and well-written volume for the relevant conversations it includes as well as the ones it will inspire for people interested in the labor movement and/or higher education."
Part I: Corporate University?
1. New York: Academic Labor Town?
Part II: GSOC Strike
8. Unions at NYU, 1971-2007
PART III: Lessons for the Future
15. The State of the Academic Labor Movement: A Roundtable with Stanley Aronowitz, Barbara Bowen, and Ed Ott
Monika Krause is a Ph.D. Candidate in Sociology at New York University.
Mary Nolan is Professor of History at New York University.
Michael Palm is completing his PhD in the American Studies program at New York University.
Andrew Ross is Professor and Chair of the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University and author of Fast Boat to China, Low Pay, High Profile, and No-Collar.