Through our work on the Social Science Centre, Joss Winn and I have been approached to produce a book which documents and critically analyses ‘alternative higher education’ projects in terms of their being critical responses to ‘intellectual leadership’ in mainstream higher education. The book is intended to be part of a series already agreed with Bloomsbury Academic Publishing that focuses on ‘intellectual leadership’. The series editors have encouraged us to develop a proposal for a book to be included in this new series. A brief statement about the series is:
‘Perspectives on Leadership in Higher Education’ is a research-level series comprising monographs and edited collections with an emphasis on authored books. The prime purpose of the series is to provide a forum for different and sometimes divergent perspectives on what intellectual leadership means within the context of higher education as it develops in the 21st century.
This is an invitation to attend a workshop where we aim to collectively design a book proposal that is submitted to Bloomsbury. As you can see below, we have drafted a proposal, which the series editors and their peer-reviewers have responded very positively to, but it has always been our intention to ultimately produce the book in a collaborative way with all its authors.
We hope that from the workshop, a revised proposal is produced with confirmed authors and chapter summaries, which we will then submit to Bloomsbury for final approval.
We are very optimistic that it will be accepted, but of course we are at liberty to submit the proposal elsewhere if Bloomsbury decide not to go ahead with it. Either way, we are confident of getting the book published.
Hopefully, the draft proposal below is largely self-explanatory. The chapters headings are only indicative in order to get us this far. We expect a fully revised proposal to come out of the workshop with input from all authors.
If you are interested in writing a chapter for the book, you are strongly encouraged to attend the workshop. We will be seeking international contributions to the book, but would like as many authors as possible to help design the book through attendance at this workshop.
We welcome anyone who is involved with and/or working on alternative higher education projects such as free universities, transnational collectives, occupied spaces, and co-operatives for higher education. We hope that this book will provide a lasting critical analysis of recent and existing efforts to develop alternatives to mainstream higher education in the UK and elsewhere. We expect it to encompass chapters which focus on all aspects of these initiatives including, for example, governance, pedagogy, institutional form, theory, disciplinary boundaries, subjectivities: ‘academic’, ‘teacher’, ‘student’, ‘researcher’, and the role and nature of research outside of mainstream universities.
The workshop will be held on Thursday 5th June in Leicester, UK. Exact details of time and place will be sent to participants nearer the date. If you would like to attend, please email Joss Winn prior to 10th May, with a brief abstract of your anticipated contribution. This will help us get a sense of direction prior to the workshop and organise it more effectively. If you are unable to attend the workshop but would like to contribute to the book, please tell us.
1. Book Title and Subtitle.
‘Mass Intellectuality: The democratisation of higher education’
Drawing on the activism of academics and students working in, against and beyond the neo-liberal university, this book brings together for the first time, both an analysis of the crisis of higher education and the alternative forms that are emerging from its ruins.
3. Description (marketing)
Higher education in the UK is in crisis. The idea of the public university is under assault, and both the future of the sector and its relationship to society are being gambled. Higher education is increasingly unaffordable, its historic institutions are becoming untenable, and their purpose is resolutely instrumental. What and who have led us to this crisis? What are the alternatives? To whom do we look for leadership in revealing those alternatives?
This book brings together critical analyses of the failures of ‘intellectual leadership’ in the University, and documents on-going efforts from around the world to create alternative models for organising higher education and the production of knowledge. Its authors offer their experience and views from inside and beyond the structures of mainstream higher education, in order to reflect critically on efforts to create really existing alternatives.
The authors argue that mass higher education in the UK is at the point where it no longer reflects the needs, capacities and long-term interests of society. An alternative role and purpose is required, based upon ‘mass intellectuality’ or the real possibility of democracy in learning and the production of knowledge.
4. Key features
1. The book critiques the role of higher education and the University in developing solutions to global crises that are economic and socio-environmental. In this way it grounds an analysis of the idea that there is no alternative for higher education but to contribute to neoliberal agendas for economic growth and the marketisation of everyday life. The restrictions on the socio-cultural leadership inside the University are revealed.
2. The book describes and analyses several real, alternative forms of higher education that have emerged around the world since the ‘Great Recession’ in 2008. These alternatives emerged from worker-student occupations, from engagements in civil society, and from the co-operatives movement. These projects highlight a set of co-operative possibilities for demonstrating and negotiating new forms of political leadership related to higher learning that are against the neo-liberal university.
3. The book argues that the emergence of alternative forms of higher education, based on co-operative organising principles, points both to the failure of intellectual leadership inside the University and to the real possibility of democracy in learning and the production of knowledge. The place of ‘Mass Intellectuality’ as a form of distributed leadership that is beyond the limitations of intellectual leadership in the University will be critiqued, in order to frame social responses to the crisis.
5. Table of Contents
Chapters to be negotiated in a dedicated workshop for the book. However, examples indicative of actual content are as follows.
1. Introduction: Leadership and academic labour: the failure of intellectual leadership in Higher Education [Joss Winn and Richard Hall]
This chapter will introduce the book by offering a perspective on the different types of ‘intellectual leadership’ that exist within higher education i.e. the state, university management, and academic. It will establish a critical framework for understanding the role of each, focused upon their interrelationships, and the tensions and barriers that arise. The chapter aims to introduce and provide a review of the term ‘intellectual leadership’, and then offer a different way of conceiving it as a form of social relationship. In doing so, the authors will briefly question the role, purpose and idea of the university and ask what is it for, or rather, why is it being led? For what purpose? If there has been a failure of leadership, whom has it failed? The authors will then draw on other chapters in the book to offer further responses to these questions, which are themselves developed through the structure of the book: in; against; and beyond the university. We will review the aim of each section, how they are connected and why they point to the need for alternatives. We will address whether it is possible to define alternatives for higher education as a coherent project, and if so how can they be developed and what is the role of leadership in that process?
First section: inside the University
This section sets up the problems of intellectual leadership, historically, philosophically and politically. The co-editors suggest the following indicative areas, which will be defined at the workshop.
The failures of intellectual leadership: historical critique (including militarisation and financialisation)
The failures of intellectual leadership: philosophical critique
Intellectual leadership and limits of institutional structures: managerialism and corporatisation against academic freedom
Technology: enabling democracy or cybernetic control?
The recursive ‘logic’ of openness in higher education: Levelling the ivory tower?
Second section: against the University
This section documents responses to the first section, in the form of recent critical case studies from those working and studying within and outside the academy. The co-editors suggest the following indicative areas, which will be defined at the workshop.
Leaderless networks, education and power
Student intellectual leadership: models of student-academic and student-worker collaboration
Forms of co-operation: case studies of organisational democracy in education
Historical examples of leaderless organisation
Historical examples of resistance to intellectual leadership
Regional examples of alternatives: Latin America, etc. [unless UK-based]
A review of recent initiatives: Student as Producer, SSC, FUN, Free University Brighton, Liverpool, Ragged, P2PU, Brisbane, Edufactory, etc.
Third section: beyond the University
This section provides a critical analysis of the responses described in section two and draws out generalisable themes related to the purpose, organisation and production of higher education, in terms of the idea of Mass Intellectuality, relating it to leadership. The co-editors suggest the following indicative areas, which will be defined at the workshop.
Co-operative higher education. Conversion or new institution building?
Other models: Open Source ‘benevolent dictator’; heroic leader; radical collegiality, co-operatives
Critiques of horizontalism, P2P production, forms of co-operation, radical democracy, etc.
Beyond/problems with/critique of ‘Student as Producer’ (Lincoln)
General intellect, mass intellectuality: New forms of intellectuality
Higher and higher education: Utopian forms of higher education
Intellectual leadership and local communities
Public intellectuals and public education
Conclusion. The role of free universities: in, against and beyond [Joss Winn and Richard Hall].
The concluding chapter will aim to synthesis key points from the book into an over-arching critical, theoretical argument based upon evidence from the preceding chapters. We will question whether the examples of alternatives to intellectual leadership inside and beyond the university are effective and whether they are prefigurative of a fundamental change in the meaning, purpose and form of higher education. We will reflect on the concept of ‘mass intellectuality’, and attempt to develop this idea in light of our critique and preceding evidence. We will attempt to identify a coherent vision for alternatives to mainstream higher education and assess the role and form of ‘intellectual leadership’.
6. Chapter by chapter synopsis
This needs to be determined at our workshop, but the text below is indicative.
Section one collects chapters which discuss the historical, political-economic and technological trajectory of the modern university, with a particular critical focus on the ‘imaginary futures’ of post-war higher education in the UK and elsewhere. In the context of the current social and economic crises, the chapters lay out the failures of universities and their leaders to provide an on-going and effective challenge to neo-liberalism and question why.
Section two collects chapters which focus on recent and historical attempts by students and academics to resist, reinvent and revolutionise the university from within. Looking at UK and international examples, they examine the characteristics of these efforts and assess the effectiveness of critical forms of praxis aimed against what the university has become.
Section three collects chapters which reflect critically on recent student and academic activism that goes beyond the institutional form of the university to understand higher education as a form of social relations independent of mainstream disciplines and structures. They examine several inter-related and complementary forms of practice as well as reflecting critically on their own practice.
7. Indicative Submission date
Workshop to define content and structure in 5th June 2014
First draft of all chapters by October/November 2014.
Peer-review of chapters completed by February/March 2015.
Final draft chapters to co-editors by May/June 2015.
Manuscript delivered by September 2015.