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Introduction

Boone Shear and Susan Brin Hyatt

The aim of this Special Issue of Learning and Teaching: The International Journal of Higher Education in the Social Sciences is to analyse the impacts of neoliberal restructuring on higher education and to explore ways of raising students’ critical awareness of these changes in their own environment. This Special Issue developed out of a symposium that was held at the University of Massachusetts in Spring 2008. Both Susan B. Hyatt and Vincent Lyon-Callo presented earlier drafts of their articles on that occasion, as did Dana-Ain Davis, whose article will appear in a future issue of LATISS. Shear and Zontine were the primary organisers of the symposium, along with other students and faculty at the University of Massachusetts, and in their article, they reflect on the collaborative, yearlong reading group project on neoliberalism from which the symposium emerged. We invited John Clarke to join us in writing for this issue to provide an international perspective on these issues as they are currently playing out in the U.K.

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Reading neoliberalism at the university

Boone W. Shear and Angelina I. Zontine

Ongoing transformations of the university - from changing working conditions to issues of affordability and access, increasing 'accountability' measures and commodification of academic production - are increasingly referred to as university corporatisation and are unfolding within and concomitant to neoliberal globalisation. In this paper we outline some of these processes as they are occurring at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and explore the limitations and possibilities of a critical response mounted by a number of students and faculty in the Department of Anthropology. Drawing on ethnographic data and interviews with group participants, as well as our own experiences with the group, we describe and assess this project as a means to investigate and respond to neoliberal governance. Through this analysis we problematise conventional discourses and imaginings of university corporatisation and neoliberalism and explore the sometimes contradictory subject positions that complicate our efforts to respond critically to university corporatisation.