Wednesday, June 14, 2006


Respectful Revolution

When I was in graduate school in San Francisco, I developed a curriculum for an MA program in activism and social change, and was encouraged by my professor to bring it to the attention of the Dean of Academic Affairs for the School of Humanities. I did so, but never heard back from him, and shrugged it off as one of many proposals they must receive and reject in any given year.

A few months later, though, I noticed an announcement by the Dean that the school would begin offering an MA and a BA program in activism and social change the following academic year. When I attempted to discuss my applying for an instructing position in the new program, I was completely ignored by the Dean. Unanswered e-mails, unreturned phone calls, unavailable to meet face-to-face.

Informing my friends at the school of this disappointment, one of them ran a program to identify the key word and concept match between my proposal and the program description and came up with a very high degree of correlation. No surprise to me given the unlikeliness of such a coincidence, but reassuring nonetheless.

I must admit to a significant level of distress over the matter at the time, but since then I've managed to put it into perspective. Aging administrators from higher education--trapped in the competitive as opposed to a cooperative model--must inevitably feel compelled to steal the work of sharper minds that pass through these institutions in order to maintain their status and livelihoods. It's unfortunate, but there it is.

Ironically, the institution I attended markets itself as creating a more just, sacred and sustainable world; the concept of respecting intellectual property and acknowledging scholarly contributions would seem to be foundational requirements of such a revolutionary endeavor.


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