At the final discussion session of this week’s ‘Discourses of Dissent’ workshop in Birmingham, I raised the need for academics and students concerned about the future of the university to consolidate a positive position — something beyond simply protesting budget cuts and tuition fees. A model for such an activity is the famous Port Huron Statement of 1962, which established Students for a Democratic Society in the US. Inspired by C. Wright Mills, for the following decade the Statement provided the intellectual springboard for co-ordinating university resistance to the military-industrial complex that had colonized American campuses during the Cold War. Even the original rhetoric is worth emulating today. Here is the statement.
You may also find the Google-generated reception history of the Statement of interest.
Perhaps we need a second ‘constitutional convention’ meeting at Birmingham and Midland Institute to draft an updated version of this statement? Given the eloquence and forthrightness of the original Statement, it might be worth paying attention to how it was composed: My general sense is that, like the US Declaration of Independence, the main draft was by one hand (Tom Hayden playing Tom Jefferson) with various editorial inputs.
In this podcast Steve Fuller talks about the future of the university. At a time of crisis in the university, the discussion explores how academia has arrived at its present juncture and where it might go from here. It contextualises the present predicament in terms of the wider intellectual, cultural, political and economic factors which underlay these seismic shifts in academic life.