In a course that draw students from across the English department, the challenge becomes finding some sort of common ground where all students can be engaged and then use the content from the course to pursue their own goals.
Unlike other topics classes where the topic is solely driven by the instructor, I flip the dynamic somewhat in have y’all participate and drive the course. My goal/job is give us grounding and a common foundation and then help you figure out how to match your own interests to that foundation.
This approach can be accomplished in a number of ways, but for this term, we’re going to ground the course through a common example that is relevant to all segments of English studies and also relevant to students from different areas that want to stay in higher education. In addition, the extended example will shed insights into institutional cultures that can be transferred and applied to contexts outside fo higher ed.
I have often joked that higher education is the most inefficient organization that I have worked for. There is a kernel of truth in this statement, particularly with the ongoing economic pressures that have forced higher education institutions to try and adopt aspects of corporate culture. (see https://www.aacu.org/publications-research/periodicals/reconciling-corporate-and-academic-cultures for an example). This is part of the definition of neoliberal university that is often bandied about.
While it is outside the scope of our course and example to debate all the definitions of neoliberal, what is useful for us is to keep in mind the tension of achieving the ultimate mission of education within the frameworks of tight budgets and constant shifts in public opinions. These two factors are a key part of how institutions work and how they act and react.
We will use our extended example to work through how to rhetorical knowledge can work in action, while simultaneously giving you additional insights into how universities work that can help you in the next stage of your career. For those not staying in higher ed, this example remains an example of a corporate culture and the issues of budgets and authority and the impact those two things have on the day-to-day work are similar no matter the organization.
Part of your job this term (particularly after the 6th week) will be to bring in some materials that add to this ongoing conversation, but I will get us started with some readings, and more so, I will bring in some folks who can speak to different aspects of higher education administration and writing program administration more particularly.
We want to leave this term understanding institutional structures and the role of budgets and how the money flows through institutions. This way you will carry forward with you an understanding of the pressures that do impact departments and your working everyday lives.
General Overview of Program Administration Structures