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Collisions of culture: Academic culture in the neoliberal university

Margaret D. Lecompte

This article describes how different constituencies in a major research university tried to initiate change despite disagreements over common goals, norms and principles. The context was a culture war. The university administration wanted to impose a corporatising and privatising philosophy which it felt was crucial to preserving the university's academic integrity and its financial survival in a time of budgetary crisis. Faculty viewed these actions as serious threats to shared governance, faculty control over the curriculum, instruction and research, academic freedom and the faculty's constitutional rights. These forces played out in the firing and grievance cases of Ward Churchill and Adrienne Anderson, professors whose research and publications angered members of the political and academic establishment and galvanised protests pro and con from the media, conservative politicians and public intellectuals.

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'A place where open minds meet': The constraints of alignment and the effects of compulsory teacher training on teaching and learning in higher education

Paulina Mihailova

The article investigates how university lecturers taking part in the compulsory teacher training at Stockholm University (SU) conceive of the effects of standardised and formalised training on their teaching. The study explores the emotions and responses evoked among academics when everyone is required to embrace the same pedagogic philosophy of constructive alignment (Biggs 2003), adopt the language of learning outcomes and assign the same standards to diverse academic practices. The article attempts to shed light on different conceptions of the quality of teaching and learning in higher education and the interplay between the lecturers' values of academic freedom, collegiality and disciplinary expertise and the university leadership's values of efficiency, accountability and measurability of performance. The article considers how these conceptions coexist and are negotiated within the university as an organisation.

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Editors’ Note

Oded Haklai and Adia Mendelsohn-Maoz

We are gravely concerned about the perils of regime change in Israel. Academic freedom is premised on liberal democratic institutions and values. Absent checks and balances on the power of the executive, civil liberties, including the right to

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Book Reviews

Laura Louise Sarauw, Sintayehu Kassaye Alemu, and Penny Welch

Macfarlane, B. (2017), Freedom to Learn: The Threat to Student Academic Freedom and Why It Needs to Be Reclaimed . London: Routledge, 140 pp., ISBN 978-0-415-72916-1 Revisiting student-centred education Has the orthodoxy of progressive

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Autonomy and control

Danish university reform in the context of modern governance

Susan Wright and Jakob Williams Ørberg

In 2003 the Danish government reformed universities to 'set them free' from the state. Yet ministers are actively trying to shape universities and even set research agendas. How does the government's notion of 'freedom' reconcile independence with control? We identify three discourses of freedom: freedom to use academic judgement over what to research, teach, publish and say publicly; a free trade discourse where universities are free to pursue profit; and a modernising state discourse where government steers universities to contribute to the knowledge economy. Danish universities were reformed as part of the modernisation of the welfare state. We explore the assemblage of administrative and funding mechanisms through which the government now steers independent organisations: a chain of contracts for outsourced services, newly appointed managers, output payments and accrual accounting. While responsibility for achieving government policy is passed downwards through the independent organisation, formal lines of accountability run back up to the government. University leaders and academics are set free to manoeuvre within the system, but their economic survival is firmly dependent on responsiveness to centralised steering mechanisms

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Addressing Serious Harm, Reconsidering Policy and Building Towards Repair

Rine Vieth

. Alternatively, some attempt to use the idea of ‘academic freedom’ as a way to sidestep questions of interpersonal obligations. Recently, I have encountered this line of argument in defences made by some against allegations about John Comaroff, such as media

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Editors’ Note

Oded Haklai and Adia Mendelsohn-Maoz

find it threatening to academic freedom; and some identify the singling out of Israel as an expression of antisemitism. The BDS controversy has not eluded the Association for Israel Studies (AIS). Following the endorsement of the BDS call to boycott

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Precarity and dehumanisation in higher education

Olivia Mason and Nick Megoran

-time and temporary jobs in US academia, Linda Hose and E. J. Ford argue, ruin the profession, undermine academic freedom and produce ‘difficult and minimally remunerative working conditions’ ( 2014: 46 ). Furthermore, casualisation is entangled within

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Instead of a Defence

Thoughts on the Humanities at Home and Abroad

Peter Vale

The place and future of the Humanities is under scrutiny in many parts of the world. The diminution in the university commenced in the 1980s with the rise of free-market thinking associated with Thatcher and Reagan. It was the end of the Cold War, however, with the rise of globalisation that control was tightened in higher education under the guise of increased freedom. The increasing emphasis on utilitarian forms of knowledge needed for economic growth further imperilled the Humanities. In South Africa, upon which the argument draws for illustration, policy-makers paid increasing lip service to academic freedom and institutional autonomy while directing policy interest and resources away from the Humanities.

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The reformed social sciences to reform the university

mission impossible?

Davydd J. Greenwood and Morten Levin

The core argument is that social science must re-examine its mission and praxis in order to be a significant player in future higher education. This article reviews the results and prospects arising from a four-year international project. Originating in Greenwood and Levin's concern about the social sciences, the project, funded by the Ford Foundation, was organised as an action research network of social scientists. Meeting several times over four years, the assembled group of scholars shifted focus from the future of the social sciences to broader questions of the future of higher education as a whole and the possible role of the social sciences. Four issues emerged as vital future challenges:

• Collective denial among academics that knowledge production (research and teaching) is a collaborative effort and that individual academics depend on and are responsible for contributing to the health of the academic collectivity.

• Academic freedom, conceived as an individual right is under siege and will have to be reconstructed to include both individual rights and collective and institutional responsibilities and rights in higher education.

• An appreciation of the multiplicity of teaching, research and organisational factors that interact to constitute healthy universities is lacking in most quarters.

• Technologies of accountability now drive the development of higher education towards a focus on an artificially narrow metrics of knowledge-generation and away from inquiry into what constitutes relevant and sustainable knowledge-generation practices.