Tenure

Academic Freedom and the Digital Revolution

In spring 2009, the University of Michigan Press sent out a letter by e-mail to its authors announcing the end of business as usual at the press. Having entered into an agreement with the university library at Michigan, UM Press, the letter stated, had initiated “a transformative scholarly publishing model” in which all publications are to be made available primarily in digital format, with print-on-demand versions of texts available to bookstores, institutions, and individuals (Pochoda, letter). Long-term plans outlined by editor Philip Pochoda call for books to be “digitized and available to libraries and customers world-wide through an affordable sitelicense program,” as most academic journals currently are. The announcement stressed the revolutionary potential inherent in the shift online by suggesting that digital publications will be “candidates for a wide range of audio and visual digital enhancements—including hot links, graphics, interactive tables, sound files, 3D animation, and video.” This is not, in other words, simply a change in models of distribution, but also potentially a radical metamorphosis in modes of scholarship in the humanities.

Covenant, Contract, and the Politics of the Wisconsin Idea

For those concerned about the future of public higher education, the political shake-up in Wisconsin’s higher education system deserves our attention. In 2015, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker successfully delivered major budget cuts, ushered in governance changes, and eliminated tenure from state law.

Austerity and Academic Freedom

Higher education places the entire society in which it takes place on trial. Education indicts the commonplace notions upon which society is built. Its purpose is to produce people who question everything, especially the commonplaces. James Baldwin argued that although “no society is really anxious to have that kind of person around,” having such people around is “the only hope society has.” Higher education produces this hope and is therefore a public good.

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