Knowledge Economy: The Commodification of Knowledge and Information in the Academic System
Tomas R. Giberson, Ph.D. Oakland University, Michigan
Gregory A. Giberson, Ph.D. Salisbury University, Maryland
We are seeking proposals for papers to be included in an edited collection investigating the various ways the academic economy drives the purposes, processes, and outcomes valued from Academics, individually and collectively. We suggest that our behavior as academics is governed not only by our dedication to our individual disciplines and our specific specialties but also is influenced and often determined by varying professional, intellectual, social, and political factors. These factors differ by the size, prominence, and mission of our individual institutions, our tenure status, as well as the expectations of our colleagues, students, administrators, and local communities. The competing and often contradictory demands placed upon us are often at odds with the traditional notions of liberal education that persist as traditional performative façade, an idealization of the academy existing primarily in the lore, rituals, and mission statements of most colleges and universities but not always in the products faculty are expected to produce. As Jean François Lyotard observed in The Postmodern Condition, "The question (overt or implied) now asked by the professionalist student, the State, or institutions of higher education is no longer 'Is it true?' but 'What use is it?" (51) Indeed, the "value" of higher education has taken on new meaning, which often contradicts its traditional goals: critical and intellectual development, and civic engagement.
Members of all disciplines are invited to share thoughts, observations, and experiences in each of the three traditional areas of academic work: teaching, scholarship, and service. We also encourage submissions that address the implications of the meta economy-the interaction of these three areas on individual and systemic behavior. Historically, these three areas of the academic "job" are thought of as responsibilities defined in job descriptions and position postings. However, teaching, scholarship, and service have become commodities-outcomes that enable academics to advance their careers and achieve prominence among peers and administrators, who bestow the ultimate commodity for individual faculty members, tenure and promotion. As commodities, these become not the production of individual scholars and teachers, but units of value to be held, traded, and bargained with by universities, corporations, publishers, and degree holders to promote, trade, and sell.
Examples of questions that may be addressed include, but are not limited to:
- How has the commodification of knowledge influenced the research you engage in and the scholarship you produce?
- How is your behavior as a scholar influenced by the "number" and/or "quality" of publications required for tenure?
- How is your scholarly production consumed by the university and other institutions and individuals and how does that influence you as a professional academic?
- How has the increasing pressure to secure external funding through grants and the like impacted what and how you conduct research and scholarly inquiry?
- How does the pressure of publication affect the pedagogy within graduate and undergraduate education?
- How does/did your perception of the professional implications of student evaluations influence your teaching in pursuit of tenure?
- How has your teaching been affected by the expectations of students, peers, and administrators?
- How are your teaching strategies influenced by the number of classes/students you teach in a given semester?
- How is your pedagogy influenced by the mission of your institution?
- How has your teaching been influenced by other external factors, local or otherwise?
- How do service requirements influence your work as a teacher and/or scholar?
- How are service requirements for faculty accounted for in terms of tenure and promotion by the institution?
- How do service requirements influence your behavior in productive and non-productive committees?
- How do service commitments on the part of untenured faculty affect their bid for tenure?
- How are the actions of your institution influenced by national rankings in teaching and research?
- How do federal, state, institutional, and unit-level budgets affect your behavior as an academic?
- How has the academic economy forced you to compromise your personal and professional goals?
- How have increasing expectations for productivity and assessment across generations influenced your relationship with other faculty?
Given the sensitivity of the topics addressed, we will accept submissions from authors who prefer their work to be published anonymously, particularly for aubmissions from untenured faculty. However, your submission must include a brief description of your institution, department, and your placement within the tenure process, along with reasons why using your name with your submission would cause problems. We hope that tenured faculty will want their names attached to their submission.
We are seeking proposals of 500 words or less for chapters between 3,000 and 7,000 words. We welcome submissions from faculty, administrators and staff. The deadline for submissions is July 15, 2006.
For questions or to submit a proposal: firstname.lastname@example.org
Greg Giberson, Ph.D.
Director of Freshman Composition
Director of the Eastern Shore Writing Project
Department of English
Friday, March 31, 2006
- Fires of the Dragon: Politics, Murder, and the Kuomintang, by David E. Kaplan (NY: Atheneum, 1992)
This book was, I believe, recommended or listed in a posting by Michael Turton a while back. I found an inexpensive copy and got it while I could (had an e-coupon, which helped). The interesting thing about the hardback copy that I've got is that it has an American flag sticker taped to the spine and another sticker on the first page with an American flag and the name "COLONEL ELMER C. MARTIN" written below. He might have been the Elmer C. Martin, Sr. who passed away in 2000. Colonel Martin took good care of this book--it's in perfect shape.
- Transforming Agriculture in Taiwan: The Experience of the Joint Commission on Rural Reconstruction, by Joseph A. Yager (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1988)
This one looked interesting because it's based on unpublished archival documents and covers the entire period, 1948-1979, when this US-ROC joint development agency was in operation.
Monday, March 27, 2006
MANGALORE: The Marathon Lecturer stopped at 11.30 am on Sunday, clocking 98 hours and beating the earlier world record of 88 hours for non-stop teaching.According to the article, "Ramesh is fine, but disoriented due to lack of sleep." But what about his students??
Towards the end, the strain on Annaiah Ramesh had begun to show, and he had to be stopped by his mother and the guide. Ramesh, lecturer from the department of applied botany, Mangalore University, was in the quest of Guinness Book of Records, and began his lecture on Wednesday morning.
He wanted to clock in 101 hours, but spotting his incoherent speech, his mother Kamalamma and guide Y Srinivasa Reddy from the department of sericulture, Mysore University, and others convinced him to stop as he had already gone past the record.
Thursday, March 23, 2006
Also of interest: a conference on second-language writing at Tamkang University
Call for Papers—Building Bridges: Second Language Writing Across Contexts
We invite contributions for an edited collection, Building Bridges: Second Language Writing Across Contexts, which attempts to close existing gaps in international conversations among second language writing scholars in elementary and secondary schools, two-year colleges, post-secondary institutions, and community programs. Much current scholarship on second language writing comes out of post-secondary institutions in the United States. This volume attempts to build bridges between this context and other sites of second language writing research, theory, and pedagogy.
We anticipate contributions to five major sections:
- Exploring Boundaries: Disciplinary Realms for Second Language Writing
- Understanding Contexts: The Current Status of Second Language Writing
- Posing Questions: Sites of Inquiry in Second Language Writing
- Supporting Collaboration: Projects that Cross Contextual Boundaries
- Identifying Resources: Annotated Bibliographies on Second Language Writing in Context
Contributions might focus on, but are not limited to:
- The current status of second language writing pedagogies, research, or theories in a specific context
- Institutional locations of second language writing instruction and research in relation to disciplinary boundaries
- What second language writing scholars would like to learn from their colleagues working in other contexts
- Underrepresented sites of second language writing scholarship
- Questions developing out of teaching or researching second language writing in a specific context
- Reports of in-progress or completed research that crosses contextual boundaries for second language writing
- Reports of in-progress or completed projects that reflect collaborations among scholars working in different contexts
- Suggestions for initiating and supporting collaborations among scholars working in different contexts
All contributions should be accessible to readers who are new to the field of second language writing or who primarily work in a related field. Given the volume’s focus on contexts, authors also should include descriptions of their own institutional contexts.
We request that submissions not exceed 20 manuscript pages (including a list of references, tables and figures, and appendices). Please follow the manuscript preparation guidelines outlined in the 5th edition of the APA Manual. We plan to send each manuscript out for external review to help us assess its quality and to generate feedback for revision.
Please send submissions to Jessie Moore Kapper (email@example.com)—as Microsoft Word (.doc) or rich text format (.rtf) files—by June 30, 2006. Any questions also should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jessie Moore Kapper, Elon University, and Elizabeth Patton, Purdue University
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Klein's book looks really interesting and useful to me. I'll probably post some goodies on my dissertation blog soon. [here] For now I want to quote something from the beginning of the book, where Klein is analyzing a scene from the play/movie The King and I. Klein argues that although the setting for the play is the late 19th century, it really spoke to American concerns with their relationship to Asia during the Cold War period. She argues that the sentimental relationship of Anna to the Siamese is "an idealized self-representation of the middlebrow artists and intellectuals" Klein discusses in her book. Klein illustrates this by analyzing two things going on in the scene that culminates in the "Getting to Know You" singalong:
At one level the scene produces a hierarchical relation between West and East: Anna is an adult who dispenses knowledge, and her students are ignorant children subordinate to her authority. When Anna replaces the old Siamese map with the new English one, she replaces the local and implicitly inferior knowledge of the Siamese with a metropolitan and implicitly superior knowledge derived from European models. In the best Orientalist fashion, she denies the Siamese the ability to represent themselves and insists that they can only know themselves through a Western and literally Eurocentric system of knowledge. But something else is going on here as well: Anna is more interested in forging connections between East and West than she is in demarcating racial and cultural differences. ... She presents a world in which East and West can be understood as related to one another outside the coercive ties of empire. A shared history of political independence, as well as small size, implicitly connects England and Siam. Anna animates this vision of interconnectedness by infusing it with emotion: as she sings "Getting to Know You," she translates the map's geography lesson into a playful song about the intimate bonds of friendship that can reach across national and cultural divides. More important, Anna opens up a way for the children to participate in the forging of these emotional--and international--ties when she invites them to sing along. ... By the end of the number the hierarchical differences that structured the scene at the outset ... are looser, although they do not disappear entirely. (11-12)I must admit that when I have watched the movie The King and I in the past, I never looked at the "Getting to Know You" scene from this kind of perspective. But Klein's point about Anna's encouraging the students to sing along with her puts a new twist on the lyrics of the song. If we just think about Anna's point of view--when she's singing--lines like "Telling you my dreams, / Getting to feel that you're with me" sound as though her main concern is with having her students identify with her. But when the students sing, the point of view changes and now they're telling her their dreams. Thus there's at some level the expectation of an intercultural interchange going on here, despite the hierarchical relations between Anna and the Siamese children. I am struck by this because it complicates the notion of the cultural imperialism of Anna's actions.
Later in the book Klein engages in an in-depth analysis of the play and movie, concluding that
Anna's loving instruction establishes an exemplary hegemonic relationship: it achieves its goals through sentiment rather than through physical force and by inculcating a desire on the part of its objects to behave in a certain way. It suggests power exercised not through political or military control, but through relations of exchange and influence. Anna's influence, like American-guided modernization, results in local leaders governing themselves but always according to Anna's precepts. (215)I should note that Klein stresses the "ideal" nature of the images of Anna and of the United States here. She isn't suggesting that this is what actually happened. (Certainly Taiwan's experience during the postwar years is enough to illustrate how tenuous the connection was between this image and the reality of U.S. influence in Asia.)
Anyway, I'm glad I found this book--and grateful to Rex at the Savage Minds blog who mentioned the U. of California Press book sale!
[I should add here--for people who are wondering why I'd go to the trouble of buying this book rather than getting it out of the library--according to Taiwan's National Bibliographic Information Network, no library in Taiwan owns this book... *sigh*]
Friday, March 17, 2006
The article also mentions that "more than 40 percent of seniors at state-run universities and colleges are working part-time, a much higher figure than their counterparts at private universities and colleges." This is interesting, continues the article, because it "contradicts a commonly held belief that students at private universities and colleges which charge a higher tuition are more likely to work on the side while pursuing their studies."
A China Times article that was reprinted on the National Science Council's website adds that the survey was done by over 40 educational researchers and was given to over 40,000 first-, second-, and third-year university students. The study was conducted by Peng Sunming (彭森明) as part of a larger study commissioned by the National Science Council.
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Save the Dates February 22, 23, &24, 2008I'm looking forward to hearing more about this, and will pass on what I hear. Would be nice to have some folks from Taiwan there!
2008 Santa Barbara Conference on Writing Research Theme: Writing Research Across Borders
This is an exciting time where research on writing is having many births, rebirths, and growing spurts in many nations and with focus on many levels of schooling and development across the lifespan. At the 2008 Santa Barbara Conference on Writing Research we hope to foster dialogues across different writing research traditions, located in different national, disciplinary, and programmatic venues. We are currently making preliminary plans to hold the conference on Friday through Sunday February 22-24, 2008. We are in the process of inviting a premier panel of plenary and featured speakers to represent the diversity of writing research in the world and to symbolically invite further broad participation from researchers of all nations interested in all age levels, institutional settings, and disciplinary approaches.
This conference follows on the successes of the 2002 and 2005 Santa Barbara Conferences on Writing Research, with the themes of "Writing as A Human Activity" and "Writing Research in the Making." Further information about this current conference and the previous ones is available at
[My note: this link doesn't work yet][Now it does...]
Later this spring watch for our full announcement and call for proposals. If you have any questions contact us at
For the Organizing committee
Friday, March 10, 2006
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
I'm not sure that it's possible to write about Taiwan (or anything else, perhaps) without some sort of bias, but I agree with Michael that the international press tends not to write articles that are fair to Taiwan. And, of course, I feel strongly that being fair to Taiwan is pretty important. China, for some reason, gets cut a lot of slack in the press. As Michael demonstrates, articles often end up blaming the victim for the PRC's actions and statements. Guess they don't want to "hurt the feelings of the Chinese people"...