Transforming Universities in the Midst of Global Crisis
A University for the Common Good
This book calls into question the colonial and neoliberal university, presenting alternative models of higher education that can more effectively respond to today’s intersecting social, economic, environmental and political crises. The authors argue that universities should be driven by a different set of core values – one that promotes the common good over private or commercial interests, individualism and market fundamentalism. Presenting a broad range of educational initiatives from around the world that reflect life-affirming regenerative and relational practices, Indigenous intellectual sovereignty, and principles of social and ecological justice, the authors contend that pathways toward transforming higher education already exist within and without the university. This task, say the authors, is urgent and necessary if universities and other institutions are to hold relevance in a rapidly changing global environment.
This book makes a unique contribution to critiques of the modern, neoliberal university by looking for alternatives within and beyond traditional institutions of higher education. In doing so, the authors dismantle the longstanding 'ivory tower' image of the university, instead resituating education within broader social and ecological communities.
Transforming Universities in the Midst of Global Crisis is aimed at all those who have a direct or indirect interest and stake in universities, from the general reader to futurists, ecologists as well as students, academics, administrators, managers, policy makers and politicians.
Table of Contents
Introduction. PART ONE – TODAY’S UNIVERSITIES: CONTENT AND CHALLENGES. 1. The Colonial Roots and Neoliberal Takeover of Higher Education. 2.The Case for Transgressive Alternatives. 3.Reimagining the University PART TWO – VALUES AND PRACTICES 4. Decolonising Higher Education. 5. De-centralisation, Equity and Democratisation.6. Free Universities: Free Learning, Slow Learning and Decolonial Learning on the University's Threshold 7. New Horizons: Regenerative and Relational Universities. 8. Conclusion. Postscript
Richard Hil is adjunct professor in the School of Human Services and Social Work at Griffith University, Gold Coast, adjunct professor in the School of Arts and Social Sciences at Southern Cross University, member of the editorial collective of Social Alternatives, board member of the Justice for Fallujah Project and former convenor of the Ngara Institute. Richard’s work has been published extensively, the most recent of which is The Sacking of Fallujah: A People’s History, with Ross Caputi and Donna Mulhearn. Over the past five years Richard (under his own name and as ‘Joseph Gora’ and ‘Henry Barnes’) has written on Australian higher education for The Australian, Campus Review, New Matilda, Arena Magazine, The Advocate, Social Alternatives, University World News, The Conversation, Overland, Online Opinion, Pearls and Irritations and Countercurrents. His views about higher education are best encapsulated in Whackademia: An Insider’s Account of the Troubled University, published in 2013 by New South, and Selling Students Short: Why You Won’t Get the University Education You Deserve, published by Allen and Unwin in 2015.
Kristen Lyons lives on Yuggera Country, where she is a proud long-term NTEU member, and professor of environment and development sociology at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. Her research sits at the intersection of environmental justice, development and human rights, as well as the future of higher education. Over at least twenty years she has engaged in research in Uganda, Solomon Islands and Australia, and via partnerships with environmental and human rights organisations, Indigenous peoples and Traditional Owner groups, that is grounded in her commitment to social, ecological and economic justice. She is a senior research fellow with the Californian think tank the Oakland Institute, and sits on the editorial board of Australian Universities Review.
Fern Thompsett was raised on Gubbi Gubbi Country, also known as the Sunshine Coast, in Queensland, Australia. She is currently working on her PhD in cultural anthropology at Columbia University in New York City. Her research explores how people are living according to ‘anti-civilisation’ theories: essentially a body of environmental, anti-capitalist and anti-colonial critiques of mass agriculture. Previously, she lived, worked and studied for a decade in Meanjin, or Brisbane, where she co-founded the Brisbane Free University, cohosted a community radio show on 4ZZZ fm, and played in several bands.
"Universities were always beach-heads of colonial practice. The Indigenous activist, artist and intellectual Klee Benally calls for academics to betray their institutions in the name of liberation. This book makes an iron-clad case why that's true. Everyone connected to a university needs to read it, learn treachery, and join the mutiny."
Raj Patel, Research Professor, University of Texas at Austin.
"Through research, scholarship and guiding students’ learning, universities influence our capacity to shape the future. This important book shows that transforming our universities is essential if we are to meet the challenges we now face, then demonstrates how this transformation can happen. It is required reading."
Emeritus Professor Ian Lowe AO, Griffith University, Australia.
"This timely, scholarly book identifies universities as part of the crises of global pandemics, climate change, racism and inequality. In what is a refreshingly original read, the authors insist that in confronting and overcoming the effects of colonialism and neoliberal economic systems, universities can become far more inclusive and democratic."
Emeritus Professor Stuart Rees AM, University of Sydney, Australia.
"The authors of Transforming Universities in the Midst of Global Crisis take readers on a journey across the past, present, and possible futures of higher education. They explore questions of how the many intersecting crises facing universities today can be seen as opportunities to open our horizons for radically reimagining and transforming them. The authors not only provide inspiration for recomposing universities with relocalized, regenerative, cooperative, decolonial cultures, but also offer practical guidance for realizing such transformation. Everyone who cares about the future of higher education should read this book."
Dr Eli Meyerhoff, author of Beyond Education: Radical Studying for Another World.
"To reclaim our universities from the unrepentant sickness of neoliberalism, and the pathogenic Presidents and virulent Vice Chancellors who spew its corporate pestilence, we must take action. Transforming Universities in the Midst of Global Crisis is ground zero in our battle for the future of critical thought."
Professor Simon Springer, author of Fuck Neoliberalism (PM Press) and The Discourse of Neoliberalism (Rowman & Littlefield).
"Universities are vital to the intellectual development of society yet face tremendous challenges as technology, academia, society and the climate change. Hil, Lyons and Thompsett have produced a must read book that focuses on a range of risks (particularly neoliberalism) to the future of universities and democracy. In doing so, they lift the lid on many tough yet fascinating questions, and set out a vision for a social and climate just university."
Ove Hoegh-Guldberg FAA, ARC Centre for Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, School of Biological Sciences, The University of Queensland
"Universities were in failing health long before the pandemic hit. With the sector now in intensive care, the time for incremental tweaks and band-aids is over. Now is the moment for bold ideas and wider perspectives, and so this volume is arriving at exactly the right time. ‘Transforming Universities in the Midst of Global Crisis’ manages to weld clear-eyed critique with an ambitious visioning for what needs to come next. In less experienced hands this would come off as utopian; instead it reads as simple necessity. A roadmap for breaking our Universities out of the neoliberal chokehold, imagining instead how Universities might take their place within a decolonised, ecological society."
Scott Ludlam, activist, writer, former Australian Senator