Reworking/Rethinking the University

Two Conferences at the University of Minnesota, April 11-13th, 2008; April 24-26, 2009

Call for a Manifesto

Dear Fellow Reworkers,

As you all likely know, our upcoming conference coincides with the “Reclaim Your Education – Global Week of Action 2009.” In connection with associated protests taking place around the world, we would like to collaborate on declaring our visions, strategies, and demands in a public document that we can take back to our respective local struggles. And so, in the spirit of the Situationist’s manifesto, “On the Poverty of Student Life,” our goal is to articulate:

• A vision of what education could and should be, making explicit the desire and need for political action within and beyond the university

• What it would mean to reclaim our education, strategically, tactically, and as part of our everyday practices

• An alternative framing of the university in crisis, against the supposed inevitability of the neoliberal university

• The university as a terrain of political struggles, with the aim of dismantling the corporate monopoly on higher education by reworking the university into a common for alternative political projects

While not directly political activity in the traditional sense, we believe that the Reworking and Rethinking the University conferences are capable of contributing to struggles over education taking place around the world. It is in this spirit that we hope to write a statement that captures some of the intellectual and political work that goes on at this conference in a way that can be collectively transmitted to those who did not attend the conference.

That being said, we recognize that there are considerable time restrictions which limit what can be collectively written during the course of an already busy weekend. That is why, in the run up to the conference, we’d like to invite you all to begin brainstorming ideas for this document here on our blog (click on ‘comment’ below and post your ideas via the comments section).

Beginning on the first day of the conference, we’ll post sheets of butcher paper on the wall to further collect and collaborate on our visions, strategies, and demands for reworking the university. On Sunday morning we’ll convene with these ideas to produce a manifesto and to develop plans for its dissemination. We’ll print and post online copies of it for you to distribute on your home campuses.

We look forward to collaborating with you all!

Committee on Revolutionizing the AcaDemy (ComRAD)

April 6, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. So a fifteen minute comment (max) here I come…none of these ideas are mine.

    Reclaiming education is about reclaiming the society we are creating and becoming. Or rather it is about replacing what we are becoming with what we are creating.

    It is about creating a frame that is expansive, that is that goes beyond the university in order to build sufficient power to transform it–and not just transform it–to liberate it. This means building a vision that connects the exploited within the university–workers, students, graduate students, people of color, queers, women, etc–to those who are super-exploited outside the university and reclaim the university as a collectivizing force to bring together those people.

    It is about building the capacity to have a concept of education that refused the differentiation between education and work, and that therefore reclaims the liberatory nature stuck behind the despotism of production, and uses spaces outside society and work–like education–as ways of redefining, refusing, and transforming society and work. A key aspect of this in my understanding is the concept of “community resource mapping” the intentional identifying and inter-networking of strengths. Another key aspect is anti-oppressive politics and including mechanisms of accountability to these politics, within organizations, within research, within the university and from the university to the constituents and potential constituents beyond it.

    It is also about community mapping and commonizing the resources of the university and organizing to build power to transform the university within the spaces and in the ways we have power.

    The university is in crisis but it is a crisis of prisons, a crisis of economies, a crisis of logics, a crisis of global exploitation that creates this crisis. It is a crisis that must be refused and our refusal must not be an insistence to go backwards but to go forwards, towards liberation of our whole selves, our whole communities, our whole worlds. And to recognize that we may not be able to speak for them but we may be able to organize to support them in speaking.

    Doing this requires concrete analysis, concrete planning, and intentionality in people, place, and goals. Some people talk about this in terms of class composition–technical and political–on both a local, regional, continental, and global scale. I think this is a good idea but these concepts need not be spoken of in these words.

    My time is up. May this discussion continue!

    Comment by someone | April 12, 2009

  2. Given already my Detailed manuscript for designing futuristic colleges self-supporting (from notes of 20 years, recently organized) centered entirely on sharing & researching & engineering, etc., (nothing extraneous)
    let’s start a Project Group for a Feasibility Study and to promote it. I would move to Minn.; otherwise will send attachments, then CDs on request. The ideas behind it are so fundamental, but today’s universities were built up haphazard and with marketplace ideals.

    Comment by Martin Mars | June 16, 2009

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