The Adjunct Summit: An Update and Postponement

With the start (or imminent start) of the academic year, adjuncting is back in the news. Here’s a piece from Hyperallergic. From Toward Freedom. From The New Yorker (going back to May). A CFP and other materials from SEIU Faculty Forward. From Counterpunch. From Bleeding Heart Libertarians.*

Readers may remember the discussion about adjuncting that took place here this past spring, and my floating the idea of an “adjunct summit” at Felician under the auspices of the College’s Institute for Ethics and Public Affairs. Unfortunately, we don’t have enough funding to hold a full-fledged adjunct summit this fall. The $3,000 we get has to cover two other events, namely, our fall symposium–which is on an unrelated topic–and our spring conference. That amount covers expenses for two events, but not three, and those two events were planned before I came up with the idea of the adjunct summit.

But there’s wiggle room here (there has to be, with our budget): what I’m thinking of doing is to have a special session at our spring conference dedicated to the ethics, economics, and politics of adjuncting. The spring conference is to take place at Felician’s Rutherford campus, on Saturday, April 23, 2016. I’ll announce details as I work through them. If that session goes well, perhaps we can hold a full-fledged “adjunct summit” as a follow-up in the fall of 2016. (Here, by the way, is the program for the 2015 FIEPA conference.)

Anyway, stay tuned.

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*I can’t resist responding to one of the comments at the BHL discussion. Recall that as per Matt Zwolinski’s request in the April 2015 adjunct debate, I’m not supposed to comment there.

A commenter, apparently agreeing with Jason Brennan’s take on the issue, sarcastically comments: “First world problems.” Actually, the adjunct issue is not just a first world problem. Having spent the summer teaching in the West Bank, and having visited universities in Pakistan, I can say from first-hand experience that universities in the “Third World” face some of the same problems we face, including the problem of compensation for contingent faculty. In one form or another, it’s a worldwide problem.

It’s worth adding that even a first world problem is a fortiori a problem, and a problem is a state of affairs that demands a resolution. It’s not clear to me what meaningful claim is made when a manifestly first world person derides a problem as merely “first world,” except to suggest that real problems only exist in the Third World. Newsflash: they don’t.

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