On Friday, October 4th, 2013, Hybrid Pedagogy hosted a synchronous #digped conversation on Twitter focused on Pedagogy, Neoliberalism, and Academic Labor. Because contingent labor is a topic that appears to be gaining momentum, I decided to interview Dr. Lynee Gaillet and Dr. Letizia Guglielmo about their upcoming books and their thoughts about the problem of contingency in higher education. The questions below are inspired by #digped participants. In the spirit of promoting community and collaboration, I collected questions posed during the #digped discussion and formatted them as starting points to the various discussions below.
Valerie Robin and Hybrid Pedagogy: Dr. Gaillet and Dr. Guglielmo, I want to hear about your upcoming publication: Could you tell us a little about the book(s) you are working on?
Lynee Gaillet and Letizia Guglielmo: We are working on two books connected to contingent faculty and scholarly work that we see as complementing one another. The first, titled Academic Publication off the Tenure Track: Contingent Faculty, Scholarly Work, and Cultural Currency in the Academy, is a practical guide that offers strategies for engaging in professional development within a changing academic landscape. Our survey of “how-to-publish” manuals and “advice-to-young-scholars” publications revealed, for the most part, suggestions for tenure-track faculty members or graduate students writing within traditional genres — journal articles, books, conference papers, dissertations, etc. One unfilled niche in the scholarship led us to rethink the ways our profession hires/mentors/advises academics who don’t hold tenure-track positions in traditional departments. Our first book addresses the current protean nature of faculty positions and offers concrete advice for maintaining a research and publishing agenda, even without department (financial or professional) support.
The second text is a collection of essays written largely by contingent faculty whose voices are missing from discussions on academic publication. The title of this one is Scholarly Publication in a Changing Academic Landscape, The authors share personal stories and strategies for engaging in professional development and scholarly publication with limited resources and support. Chapter topics include gender and contingency, intellectual property, connecting assessment and scholarship, online publication, scholarly teaching, professional development with the National Writing Project, local conferences, and innovative models of collaboration. Eileen Schell is writing the introduction for that volume.
VR: In response to our #digped discussion entitled, “Pedagogy, Neoliberalism and Academic Labor,” I’ll begin with a broad question: How does the current academic labor situation impact teaching and learning?
LG and LG: Teaching loads are increasing at the same time middle-management administrative positions are on the rise. Furthermore, these contingent positions are created in most cases to fulfill immediate teaching demands only, with little support for professional development, scholarly engagement, or innovative or experimental pedagogy. As a result of burgeoning enrollment, class size is increasing, and the need for teachers in general education courses remains a reality semester after semester; however, these positions rarely come with job security or lead to advancement. Scholarship tells us that the best teachers engage in professional development, and reflect upon and share best teaching practices. Since contingent teachers often aren’t seen as faculty members, they are overlooked in faculty decisions that often impact them significantly, resulting in low morale and outsider status in the eyes of administrators, faculty, and students.