Sean Dockray, Caleb Waldorf, Jason E. Smith and I will be at the UCIRA State of the Arts conference in San Diego for a panel titled There is nothing less passive than the act of fleeing… Full schedule here.
The last two years have witnessed an unprecedented crisis on college campuses around the world, as the social compact that governed higher education in the United States and Europe for the past half century has begun to collapse. Universities from London to Sussex, from Athens to Vienna, and from Berkeley to Santa Cruz, have experienced protests, occupations, walkouts and other actions directed against the encroaching privatization of public education. This crisis has been particularly acute at the University of California, the flagship public university system in the United States. Dramatic funding cutbacks, layoffs, furloughs, and fee hikes have been combined with an upsurge in the sort of racist and sexist attacks that often accompany periods of economic turmoil, as the perception of dwindling resources leads to the predictable search for scapegoats.
This complex mix of economic, cultural and social forces places particular pressure on the status of the arts within research universities, and the very notion of the university itself as a haven for liberal arts education. New tensions have opened up, between the arts and humanities and engineering and science, and between public and private funding sources and priorities, even as new solidarities have emerged, among and between staff and faculty, graduates and undergraduates, disciplines and departments. This conference seeks to address the following questions:
- How can the arts respond to this crisis?
- What new alliances can we form both within the university campus and the communities beyond its walls?
- What alternative economies exist for the support of artistic research?
- What new pedagogical models and new forms of knowledge production can the arts offer as our educational mission is both threatened and, potentially, transformed?
- And what forms of creative practice have been mobilized by the protests, walkouts and occupations?