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Adjuncts and the Death of the American university

August 23, 2012

When I started this blog a few years ago, it was always intended to be simply a collection of links I came across, describing some of the various reasons that I feel that academia is failing.  Perhaps more importantly, I wanted to let students coming into academia learn the types of challenges they were facing, and perhaps reconsider their paths.

Compared to many folks in academia, I consider myself to be reasonably lucky – I made my escape early, after only a short postdoctoral stint, and moved into a reasonably financially and personally rewarding industry position.  Many, however, do not make the same decisions I did – whether due to lack of options, or a dedication to teaching which I might lack.  Unfortunately, the current state of the system means that most of these people end up working in low-salary, temporary adjunct positions, floating in limbo waiting for that chance to one day have a more reasonable teaching job.

The article “The closing of American academia” by Al Jazeera starts with the depressing statistic that 67% of American University faculty are part-time employees with no benefits and no job stability.  From there, it just gets worse, describing living conditions below the poverty line, people with Doctorate degrees living on food stamps, and so on.  It is a depressing, but necessary read.

Reading the comments on this article is also well worth the time – there are many links to other resources decrying the current state of academia, and focused on adjuncts in particular.  For example, one blog’s post, “How the American University Was Killed”, from the “junctrebellion” blog, delves into the redirection of funds away from educators and toward administrators, advertisers, lawyers, etc.  This entire blog focuses on the struggles of an adjunct, and it has an extremely worthwhile list of “blogs I follow” in its sidebar, many of them focused on the adjunct experience in particular.  You can sink many hours into following these various links, learning the many injustices that occur in academia, and understanding the reasons behind the rapid decline in the quality of education in money-driven American Universities.  It is a long, painful investment of time, but one that I think is well worth experiencing, for anybody still considering an academic career.

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