Abstract of a paper accepted for the ‘Governing Academic Life‘ conference.
UPDATE 16th June 2014: My paper for this conference is available here.
We are witnessing an “assault” on universities (Bailey and Freedman, 2011) and the future of higher education and its institutions is being “gambled.” (McGettigan, 2013) For many years now, we have been warned that our institutions are in “ruins” (Readings, 1997). We campaign for the “public university” (Holmwood, 2011) but in the knowledge that we work for private corporations, where academic labour is increasingly subject to the regulation of performative technologies (Ball, 2003) and where the means of knowledge production is being consolidated under the control of an executive. We want the cops off our campus but lack a form of institutional governance that gives teachers and students a right to the university. (Bhandar, 2013)
Outside the university, there is an institutional form that attempts to address issues of ownership and control over the means of production and constitute a radical form of democracy among those involved. Worker co-operatives are a form of ‘producer co-operative’ constituted on the values of autonomy, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity (Co-operatives UK, nd). In most cases the assets (the means of production) of the co-operative are held under ‘common ownership’, a social form of property that goes beyond the distinction between private and public (Footprint and Seeds for Change, 2012)
In this talk, I will begin by discussing recent work by academics and activists to identify the advantages and issues relating to co-operative forms of higher education. I will then focus in particular on the ‘worker co-operative’ organisational form and question its applicability and suitability to the governance of and practices within higher educational institutions. Finally, I will align the values and principles of worker co-ops with the critical pedagogic theory of Student as Producer (Neary, 2009, 2010a, 2010b)
Bailey, Michael and Freedman, Des (2011) The Assault on Universities: A Manifesto for Resistance, Pluto Press.
Ball, Stephen J. (2003) The teacher’s soul and the terror of performativity, Journal of Education Policy, Vol. 18:2, pp.215-228.
Bhandar, Brenna (2013) A Right to the University, London Review of Books blog, Retrieved 17th February 2014. http://www.lrb.co.uk/blog/2013/12/10/brenna-bhandar/a-right-to-the-university/
Co-operatives UK (nd) The worker co-operative code, Retrieved 17th February 2014. http://www.uk.coop/workercode
Footprint and Seeds of Change (2012) How to set up a Workers’ Co-op, Radical Routes. Retrieved 17th February 2014. http://www.uk.coop/workercode
Holmwood, John (2011) A Manifesto for the Public University, Bloomsbury Academic.
McGettigan, Andrew (2013) The Great University Gamble: Money, Markets and the Future of Higher Education, Pluto Press.
Neary, Mike and Winn, Joss (2009) The student as producer: reinventing the student experience in higher education. In: The future of higher education: policy, pedagogy and the student experience . Continuum.
Neary, Mike (2010a) Student as producer: a pedagogy for the avant-garde?, Learning Exchange, 1 (1).
Neary, Mike and Hagyard, Andy (2010b Pedagogy of excess: an alternative political economy of student life. In: The Marketisation of Higher Education and the Student as Consumer. Routledge, Abingdon.