Friday, September 14, 2012

Second recent link: the death of the American university

I'd like to come back to some of these articles and think about them in greater depth, but here's a good one about how to destroy the American university system in five (completed) steps.  ([academeblog]) Those steps are: 1. Defund public education; 2. Deprofessionalize and impoverish professors; 3. Move in a managerial/administrative class who take over governance; 4. Move in corporate culture and corporate money; 5. Destroy the students.

Mission accomplished!

There's a lot of thought in that post.  I'm not accustomed to analyzing things like this and then writing meaningful things about them, so I'm going to have to ease into it.  But I can say a few reasons (beyond the personal) that it caught my attention.

First, it addresses what amounts to a conspiracy at the highest levels of government and society.  That's interesting.  What evidence can we trace?  What meaning has this group injected into the meme pool of America?  We know some of it: it ties into universities being "liberal" in the sense of "dangerous".  These are the things I'd like to explore, in short words and simple statements.  I can almost envision a kind of database or Lexicon of .. terms?  Concepts?  Memes that aren't just pictures of cats with captions on them?

What popular opinions and statements can track the changes?  We can also model the effects economically and sociologically.  People have to have standard tools for this kind of modeling that I should learn about.

Incidentally, Al Jazeera has another short piece on the plight of the adjunct - not only are they cut out of life benefits like health care, job security, and pensions, but also from professional benefits such as conference participation that is essential to their continued existence as academics.  None of these facts are in dispute, yet drawing attention to them brands you an Unserious Thinker.  Why is that?  Why can such a cutting indictment of American life only appear in Al Jazeera?

Again - what I would like to do with this article, like others, is to analyze it thoroughly at a semantic level.  Map out precisely all the facts and assertations, and group them into politically salient ones, and politically irrelevant ones.  (I'm not terribly interested in the fact that an anthropological association met in Quebec, for example - but it's an assertion in the document and so it should appear in the analysis.)

This part of The Plan, insofar as there is a Plan, is a pretty straightforward, if ambitious, NLP task.  It is amenable in part to automation, and that is certainly one thing I hope to explore going forward.

With that, I leave the topic of academia for the time being.  I'll be coming back to it.

No comments:

Post a Comment