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Contingent faculty survey

February 8, 2013

This blog has taken a rather extended holiday, but I’d like to start it up again. How to start? Maybe with the definition of good writing I heard yesterday from the writer George Saunders, during a wonderful interview on Michael Krasny’s radio show Forum:

Good writing is when I read one sentence, and then I feel like reading the next one.

That’s actually a very high standard, so I hope you won’t apply it too strictly here. But before you stop reading, how about this sentence:

Today is the last day for department chairs in my College to complete an online survey on contingent faculty working conditions. I prepared the survey with our Faculty Council, which I chaired last fall. I also got suggestions from some of the part-time faculty in my department. Some of the questions are specific to our campus, but most are similar to other recent surveys on contingent faculty, as discussed in this story on “Questions to Ask on Adjuncts.” The idea is to collect information and promote discussion, and if we find that some departments are doing certain things better than others, then maybe simply publicizing the best practices can lead to easy improvements. (More difficult improvements are another matter.) I’ll prepare a short report based on the surveys, but I’m not sure what will happen after that. I’ll keep you posted.

Aside from that, I’ve been busy redesigning and now teaching my courses on Current Political Thought and Democratic Theory and Practice, the latter in both undergraduate and graduate versions. And I’ve got a couple of trips coming up:

Next weekend I’ll be attending the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Boston. I’m scheduled to present a paper on an exciting panel: “Role of Science in the American Democracy: Roots, Tensions, and Paths Forward.” The panel was organized by the Union of Concerned Scientists, as part of their recently started Center for Science and Democracy.

The week after that I’ll be giving a talk on “Political Advocacy and Discussion in the Classroom” at the annual CSU Teaching Symposium. I’ll be drawing on my blog posts from last fall on classroom politics. The conference program looks promising, and it’s not often that I get to sit around all day and talk with other teachers about teaching.

Onward.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. February 13, 2013 6:25 AM

    Glad to see Whose University is back!

  2. Deborah permalink
    February 21, 2013 8:10 AM

    I enjoyed your talk at AAAS and am glad to have found your blog and to learn that you’re also working on making improvements for contingent faculty. I am now working at the Center for Science and Democracy, but I left academia in part because I didn’t like being an adjunct and didn’t see much of a future beyond that if I stayed. It’s always good to hear that people on the inside are thinking about these things in addition to their research.

    • February 21, 2013 9:52 AM

      Thanks. I think a lot of highly qualified adjuncts leave academia after rightly getting sick of the working conditions.

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